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Muskego lake district's bounty puts carp on most-wanted list

Brian Wallis (left) and his dad, James of Oconomowoc won $1,000 for landing the first carp that had been tagged by the DNR on Eagle Spring Lake.

Brian Wallis (left) and his dad, James of Oconomowoc won $1,000 for landing the first carp that had been tagged by the DNR on Eagle Spring Lake. Photo By Eagle Spring Lake Management District

April 22, 2013

Muskego - The carp, which some see as a lake villain, will now have a price on its head in Little Muskego Lake.

As an incentive to get more people to fish for the undignified species, the Little Muskego Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District will pay $500 "bounty" to each person who catches carp previously tagged by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The lake district didn't provide an exact number of carp that will be tagged by the DNR and then put back into the lake. Larry Lefebvre, district chairman, simply put that number at "a couple."

Bounty-full effort

The real point of the lottery-like bounty approach is to encourage carp removal in general. Carp eat the eggs of walleye, northerns and other game fish and stir up the water, which is bad for lakes and why the district is trying this new idea to get them out, Lefebvre said.

"It we have a bounty on them, we could have all kinds of people" fishing for them, Lefebvre said.

The effort recently received the blessings of the DNR. The program will start as soon as the DNR is able to catch and tag the carp.

The Lake District already helps the Little Muskego Lake Association fund its annual carp shoot. But that's only one day a year, Lefebvre said. The district will try bounties instead this year because it could help clear the lake all season.

If it's successful, the group will try to offer a bounty every year, he said.

Success elsewhere

A similar bounty program has been used successfully in other lakes, including Eagle Spring Lake near the village of Eagle.

Tom Day, Eagle Spring Lake Management District chairman, estimated that more than 2,400 carp had been taken out of the lake in the four years the bounty has been offered. He estimates that number by counting the carp in the trash receptacle at the boat launch into which fishermen toss their useless catches. He also goes on reports from others who said they took their carp with them.

Offering a bounty on tagged carp has gotten many more of the unwanted fish out of the lake than the 12-year Carp Out day - a program in which, one day a year, the management district offered prizes for things such as catching the most carp or the biggest carp.

The average catch for the 12 years of Carp Out was 70, Day said. That's small compared to the more than 800 carp he figures were removed from the lake only last year by fishermen angling for the $500 bounty.

The management district started by tagging two carp the first year. Then it went to four in 2010 and to six in 2011 and 2012.

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