Carp Conundrum: Too Many Fish, Not Enough Fishermen

Mar 29, 2018

Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials want to cull the commonwealth’s Asian Carp population. A fish processing facility in rural west Kentucky wants to help, but it, too, needs a hand.


Two Rivers Fisheries in west Kentucky has more than doubled its Asian carp processing since it opened in 2013.

Employees at the Wickliffe fishery are working on a load of silver carp caught by contracted commercial fishermen. The crates of fish represent a small amount of the more two million pounds that Two Rivers processes.  

President Angie Yu says they have the capacity to do more. “We need at least 10 groups of full-time commercial fishermen, ” said Yu.

Workers at Two Rivers Fisheries in Wickliffe, process Asian carp
Credit Nicole Erwin, WKMS

She currently contracts with around 36 different groups of fishermen. Of those, only five are full-time commercial operators.

Yu needs more fish and the state wants them out of its waterways. An attempt to secure public-private partnerships is being considered as a solution by the state, where commercial fishermen would receive training to expedite the population control.

Fish and wildlife officials say it takes catching 125,000 pounds of carp each day to make a dent.

Two Rivers Production Manager Jeff Smith said fishermen are becoming “a dying breed.”  

He said fishing is hard work, children of fisherman opt to go to college than work the long hours on the boats.

“But my take on it is, you know, not everybody can go to college,” Smith said. “I've got fishermen here that are making $2,000 to $3,000 a week... We are trying to get people to start fishing for this fish because this fish is here to stay and we are here to stay.”

The company is presenting expansion plans in Frankfort this week.