Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The Carp Must Die

Asian carp are destroying the rivers of the Midwest and preparing to invade the Great Lakes. Can they be stopped?
The Carp Must Die
Illustration by Zohar Lazar

The Asian carp is a skittish fish, averaging about two feet long and 10 pounds apiece. When startled by something, say a boat’s motor, it’s prone to jump up to 10 feet in the air. So when Blake Ruebush, Levi Solomon, and Chase Holtman, an ecology team with the Illinois Natural History Survey, head out on an early October carp-hunting mission, they do so with caution, and armor.

Ruebush’s steering console has been modified with a carp-proof Plexiglas windshield and a side wall of mesh netting to guard the throttle and steering wheel from aerial impact. The team considered wearing helmets but dismissed the idea as too dorky. Instead, despite the humidity, Ruebush and Solomon wear waders to repel the slime. Holtman, a burly-looking guy, has gone the other way, opting for a T-shirt, shorts, and Crocs. “I’ll shower afterwards,” he says. “People look at you funny when you reek of blood and fish.”