TWRA officers work to control invasive fish population after discovery in Kentucky Lake

BENTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Kentucky Lake’s ecosystem could be in danger.

Wildlife officers say an invasive type of fish was found in the water.

It’s one of the largest man-made lakes, home to many wildlife species and known for its fishing tournaments.

“That old saying, ‘fishing is great when they’re jumping in the boat,’ well, that’s literally what’s happening,” said Bob Keast, owner of Birdsong Resort and Marina.

But that type of jumping fish puts Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River in danger. Wildlife experts say Asian carp were found lurking under the surface.

“I’ve been in tune with this problem for at least 10 years, and it’s progressively getting worse,” Keast said.

Keast says these type of fish could wipe out native fish populations.

“The Asian carp eats shad, zooplankton, phytoplankton — that’s the same thing that our game fish eat,” he said

Keast says the jumping fish also poses a threat to boaters.

“It’s going to hit you and possibly kill you and cause major damage,” he said

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is working with Kentucky wildlife officers to control the population.

“We are trying to get commercial fishing involved in harvesting these fish to try to control the population,” TWRA fisheries manager Tim Broadbent said.

Broadbent says they are also working on adding sound barriers in dams to make a high frequency sound to prevent them from spreading.

“So if we can get that in place in Pickwick Dam and others it ought to get it out of the system,” he said.

For Keast, the sooner the problem is solved, the better.

“It’s a trickle-down thing that could be very devastating unless we get behind it and try to do something,” he said.

TWRA officers say they won’t ever be able to completely wipe out the population, but controlling the fish from spreading further is their goal.