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Local woman catches goldfish in Lake Erie

She landed the unusual catch in Luna Pier in June.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s a growing problem around the country. People dumping pet goldfish in ponds, rivers and lakes. Some of those fish are ending up the size of footballs. People dumping goldfish in natural waterways is a serious concern in some states. It’s happening here too.

A University of Toledo student who recently caught one in Lake Erie. Ashlen Gangway was fishing with her boyfriend Jake in Luna Pier when she landed a big surprise.

“We were going for the perch, pike, walleye. The normal fish you’d catch in Lake Erie, certainly not a goldfish.”

But that’s exactly what ended up on the end of Ashlen’s line last month. “It definitely was a big shock to see a goldfish on a hook right from Lake Erie.”

Ashlen has been fishing for a few years, and she casts a line several times a week. She says this catch took some extra effort.

“It was big. It took two hands to pick up and carry. It was a decent sized fish. You can usually pick them up by the line, but we had to use a net for that one. We were afraid it was going to snap the line.”

Plenty of people wanted to capture the moment.

“There were people who came running down the pier to take pictures. Some wanted to take their own pictures with it. It was definitely the center of attention on the pier.”

But the typically tiny pets are now causing some big problems. Experts say pet goldfish released into the wild can grow over a foot long, and live up to 25 years. To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, wildlife officials in one Minnesota county removed an estimated 50,000 goldfish from a single lake last year. They rapidly reproduce and can harm the environment and the ecosystem.

Przemek Bajer is a Professor of Aquatic Invasive Species at The University of Minnesota and the owner of Carp Solutions.

“Goldfish are like little vacuum cleaners. They dig in the bottom looking for food. And by doing so, they disturb the the bottom of the lake quite significantly. It’s not their fault that they’re becoming invasive. It’s kind of our fault because we’re releasing them. "

So how does Ashlen’s fish story end? She wrestled with what to do next, and ultimately released it back in the lake. She knew it wasn’t the best solution, but the only one at hand.

“The goldfish should not have been in the lake .I have tons of pet fish myself, and I would never do that to an animal.”

Experts say to think twice about buying a goldfish if you’re not willing to potentially care for it for years. If you do have a goldfish that you need to get rid of, try to find it a new home instead of releasing it.

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