Don’t be Koi with me.

During a recent fishing trip to a small city lake, my son spied something orange in the water, suspended under a tree limb. I recalled the tell-tale sign of blue aquarium gravel at the boat ramp and suspected it was a goldfish or koi. We eased up quietly to get a better look but it scooted off.

Because of their often detrimental effects, invasive species are a major concern and precautions are taken to prevent their spread. But this was, well, someone’s pet. I’ve never targeted koi. Could they be caught on rod and reel? If so, how? And further, if I caught it, then what?

This spring, Dave Maynard, host and executive producer of TV shows “Fish the Baja” and “Fishing Across America,” was fly-fishing and hooked a 28” koi in the South Platte River near Denver, so I posed these questions to him.

“It was swimming with several carp. After 30 casts or so with a crayfish pattern, it bit,” he shared. “I fought it for 7-10 minutes. It was every bit as strong as a common carp.”

The big white fish with black and orange patches was brought back to his koi pond. If he didn’t have a koi pond, he would have released it. With plenty of similarly behaving common carp already in the system, the removal of a fish that he maybe sees 4 or 5 times in 100 fishing trips, didn’t seem necessary.

Harmless as it may seem, even if your pet koi has overgrown the tank, releasing one fish in a new system can lead to drastic changes in that fishery. Plus, it makes management even more complicated. Each state’s regulations can help answer what to do if a strange fish is caught. A fish with a “prohibited” status, such as the Asian Carp, can not be returned to the water, but koi seem to fall into the just “frowned upon” status.

Fortunately, I’ve got a big empty aquarium in case my path crosses again with something big and orange.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.