(Arkabutla Lake, MS) Arkabutla Lake Ranger Ernie Lentz heard the noise as he patrolled the lake.
A helicopter buzzed overhead, but that wasn’t the odd part.
”He was picking up water out of the river and then dumping it over here in the lake area,” Lentz said.
Lentz says it looked like some kind of practice for water drops on wildfires, the kind you see in those huge blazes out west.
It turned out that Mid-South Community College was training local firefighters in the air drops and had scooped up water from the Coldwater River, and dumped it east of the Coldwater River Dam, into Arkabutla for practice.
But Lentz got alarmed when he realized the danger it posed to the lake.
”The Asian carp, we do have some in the river and we very much are concerned about them getting into the lake,” he said.
Because Arkabutla has no carp… for now.
In recent years, the fish have taken over several area rivers and lakes, like the Tunica Cut-off, where dozens of fish jump high and fast from the water.
Nobody wants what happened at Tunica Lake to happen here at Arkabutla.
Folks down in Tunica say the Asian carp have taken over the lake so aggressively, it’s too dangerous for most people to go for a boat ride, much less fish.
Fisherman Mike Tugague saw it firsthand on a trip with a friend down the St. Francis River.
”Oh, he got hit in the back of the head by one of ‘em,” he said.
He says carp getting into Arkabutla would be a disaster.
”No, no. It’ll ruin it. It’d hurt too many people,” Tugague said.
Fortunately Lentz got word to Mid-South College and they stopped.
”They explained what their process was and everything and they understand our concern and so I don’t think they’ll be doing it anymore,” he said.
Now, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will have to carefully watch Arkabutla to see if the carp have invaded. No one knows what may happen after that.
So far, Mid-South Community College has not commented on the incident.