A fisheries expert for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says you might see some dead fish turn up as the ice continues to go out on the state’s rivers and lakes. Jim Wahl, supervisor for fisheries in northwest Iowa, says this has been one of the worst winters for fish since 2000-2001.
Wahl says there’s been so much ice cover and snow depth on the waterways, but they’re hopeful that the fish kill won’t be that bad. He says they know there are areas in the northern and southern parts of the state that have low oxygen levels that could lead to problems for the fish. Wahl says all the snow and ice keeps the plant life from making more oxygen.
He says the photosynthesis is reduced or cut off and there isn’t enough oxygen to sustain the fish through he winter period. Wahl says they do take steps to help the fish when it’s possible. Wahl says in some northern lakes where there are chronic problems with oxygen, then they use aerators to keep the water open and allow for oxygen areas where fish can survive. Whal says they’ve seen some evidence of the low oxygen already.
Wahl says some anglers have reported viewing dead fish under the water with cameras they use while fishing, and the D.N.R. has confirmed some of those reports. Wahl says they won’t know the extent of the fish kill until all the ice has melted away.
He says D.N.R. staff will go out and conduct surveys after the ice is out to see if there are lots of fish along the shoreline, and if so, they’ll follow up with more extensive surveys. Wahl says even if there are fish kills, they shouldn’t have a major impact on fishing in the state.