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The boat drifts to a stop near some submerged trees, the river quiet and tranquil. For the moment.
“You ready for your first carp show?” asks Jim Lamer, director of the Illinois River Biological Station.
Lamer and fisheries ecologist Kris Maxson have brought me to this section of the Illinois River for a morning of electrofishing. I’ve been electrofishing in a number of habitats, from Idaho spring creeks to Louisiana bayou. I’m familiar with the stunned fish on the water’s surface when researchers survey the river with electric current. But Lamer promises a bit of a different experience today.
Maxson moves to the front of the boat, putting electrofishing gear in place. He nods at Lamer as the generator kicks on. And then: pandemonium.
All around me, silver carp leap into the air, a detonation of water and fins. One flies over my shoulder and lands with a thump in the boat. More carp keep leaping. I have my phone out but realize I’ve mainly just been gawking at the sheer number of fish. Carp, carp everywhere. The Carpocalypse.