What do you call a whole lot of carp?

After this, you’ll call it a nightmare of carp. We visited another strange wonder, the Spillway in Linesville, PA. There is a parking area, a concession stand that sells cups of grain to feed the fish, and a long railing marked with red tape “X” marks every six feet (that most people ignore). Though just down a few hundred yards from the Linesville fish hatchery where they raise walleye, the feature here is carp. Fish gather along the spillway waiting to be fed. These aren’t minnows, or pond-size koi, but huge, overfed monsters, many weighing ten pounds or more. And these are the ones you can see easily on the surface!

The fish gather at any shadow cast on the surface by visitors, tilting their bodies upward, opening their big circular mouths that look like the opening of a bottle, and undulating slightly in the water. The little tendrils that project from their mouth (barbels) give them a bit of extra creepiness.

As visitors throw pieces of bread or sprinkle grain from their cup into the water, the fish pack together as tightly as they can, trying to get to the food. The surface writhes with fish, flopping on their sides to try and get to the food. The water looks like it’s boiling. Eeew, it’s gross and fascinating.

Ads for this location say, “Where the birds walk on the fish!” Sometimes the carp are so thick that the birds have to walk on top of them. Geese and ducks flock on the water just beyond the carp, hoping that a morsel of bread will get tossed their way. Gulls line the spillway watching, and waiting to swoop in and grab some bread.

We were amazed by the quantity of bread people brought to feed the fish. A family parked beside us and got out with a huge carrier bag. Each of the six members of the group (Grandma, parents, older children, younger child) got at least an entire loaf of white bread to feed to the fish. We watched a young man standing along the rail take halves of hamburger buns and throw them as far out as he could, to watch the geese fight over them. I wondered how a goose could swallow something that large in one gulp.

Hundreds and hundreds of geese and ducks circulated along the rail, then out into the reservoir. Small flocks flew to the shore some distance away as though waiting their turn to get into the water and beg. We even did a little birdwatching, looking for different species among the mob of mallards and Canada geese. We spotted a black duck, a ruddy duck, and across the reservoir, a bald eagle sat in a tree, perhaps digesting a recent meal of fresh carp.


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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