SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the ice melts on lakes in our region, dead fish are lining the shorelines of lakes.
Lake Shetek, Lake Oakwood, Marsh Lake, and Lake Albert are just a few places seeing massive fish kill this spring. We found hundreds of fish lining the shore of Lake Albert in Kingsbury County.
With 17 miles of shoreline, Albert is shallow, 13 feet at its deepest. The winter kill is caused when early ice and thick snow block sunlight from getting to vegetation in the water.
“The oxygen drops, and the carbon dioxide builds up. That’s the tipping point where fish get stressed out because there is a lack of dissolved oxygen, and depending on the lake and the size of the lake and the depth of the lake, you may start to see early fish kills,” said Jack Lauer the Southern Regional Fisheries Manager with the Minnesota DNR.
Lauer says this could be one of the worst winter kill seasons in two decades.
Gulls and eagles are having a good spring feasting on the fish, but for anglers the news is mixed.
“It can be a good thing it will get the rough fish out of these lakes, the state will get them restocked, and in two years, it’s going to be good fishing again,” said Matt Staab, the owner of Northview Tackle in Sioux Falls.
Lauer agrees and says it can lead to cleaner lakes.
“Clear water returns because you don’t have this biomass of carp and other buffalo fish that are recycling nutrients in the water,” said Lauer.
Both Lauer and Matt Staab, the owner of Northview Tackle, say more lakes could be affected. We will find out as more of the ice melts.
We’ll get through, we’ve got the Missouri River full of fish, and there’s a lot of lakes that didn’t get winter killed, and they will be just fine,” said Staab.
According to Staab, a lot of minnow ponds froze up over the winter, so fishermen should be aware minnows will probably be in short supply this season. It just means anglers will have to adapt to that as well.
“You might have to fish a new lake, but that’s not a bad thing to learn a new lake,” said Staab.
Staab says Lake Poinset is a good example of the positive side of winter kill. Poinsett went though a massive winter kill about 20 years ago, and the fishing has steadily improved. Today Poinsett is considered a great fishing lake.