Natural resource managers use data on the spatial range of species to guide management decisions. These data come from survey or monitoring efforts that use a wide variety of tools. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a surveillance tool that uses genetic markers for detecting species and holds potential as a tool for large-scale monitoring programs. Two challenges of eDNA-based studies are uncertainties created by imperfect capture of eDNA in collection samples (e.g., water field samples) and imperfect detection of eDNA using molecular methods (e.g., quantitative PCR). Occurrence models can be used to address these challenges, thus we use an occurrence model to address two objectives: First, determine how many samples were required to detect species using eDNA; Second, examine when and where to take samples. We collected water samples from three different habitat types in the Upper Mississippi River when both Bighead Carp and Silver Carp were known to be present based on telemetry detections. Each habitat type (backwater, tributary, and impoundment) was sampled during April, May and November. Detections of eDNA for both species varied across sites and months, but were generally low, 0 - 19.3% of samples were positive for eDNA. Overall, we found that eDNA-based sampling holds promise to be a powerful monitoring tool for resource managers, however, limitations of eDNA-based sampling include different biological and ecological characteristics of target species such as seasonal habitat usage patterns as well as aspects of different physical environments that impact the implementation of these methods such as water temperature.