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Fish Kill at Lost Island Lake Hits Walleyes
Posted: 09/30/2013
RUTHVEN, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources investigated a fish kill at Lost Island Lake Sunday morning that appears to have affected only walleyes.

Investigators counted 74 walleyes, mostly very large fish with some approaching 10 pounds dead along the shoreline.  The majority of the walleyes, especially the largest females, had extensive amounts of fungus present on their bodies and in and around their mouths.

“This leads us to believe that they may have been under stress for some time and may have had an underlying bacterial infection,” said Mike Hawkins, fisheries management biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Bacteria that cause fish disease are common in the environment. It becomes an issue when the bacteria are combined with other stressors leading to fish kills.

Lost Island Lake, like many lakes in the area, experienced very warm water temperatures in late summer and early fall.  Walleyes become stressed in warm water with the largest fish most likely experiencing the greatest impact.  The onset of a bacterial/fungal infection probably occurred around this time and culminated late last week with rapidly changing weather conditions.

“All of the walleyes we looked at yesterday had been dead for more than a day so we hope the worst of the fish kill is over,” Hawkins said.  “We will continue to check in to see if the numbers increase.  Cooling temperatures should help ease stress on the walleyes.”

Hawkins said he talked to many concerned residents Sunday and have received a number of calls again Monday morning.

 “With the relatively low number of fish, this kill will not impact the fishery.  It’s just hard to see such big fish lying dead on the shoreline,” he said. 

Bacterial infection in fish cannot cross over to humans and there is no threat to eating fish of any species caught from the lake as long as the fish is prepared and cooked properly.

Hawkins said they found two dead northern pike on the south shoreline, but it was hard to tell if their presence is related to the investigation.