Please discuss the fish die off here.
Lake Winnebago Fish Die Off
So, here we are, June 12 and still no word on what's going on. Seem a little strange?
I've been living on the lake for the past 31 years. Fished it since the 60's. Nothing has happened like this in the past. So what's going on????
We got our pier in the last week of April. When the ice went out we had what appeared to be sand along the beach. It was mostly stone until then. On closer inspection it was zebra mussel shells. Mostly crushed and some full about 6-8" thick.
Since then I've been fishing off the pier. Been almost two months and the only thing I've caught was a 10" walleye and a 7" bass. The lake stinks yet and the water is sort of clear with a tannin tint to it. The carp did not spawn. The catfish bite did not exist...no gills, crappie or sheeps and there have been no signs of any YOY. By now there should be tons of them feeding along the shore.
And yet, we hear nothing. Nothing in the paper or on the news. Makes you kind of wonder what the hell is going on.
Wondering if the cladophora algae that is causing issues in Lake Huron and Michigan is contributing to this. The zebras clear up the water allowing for massive algae blooms. When this particular algae dies, it piles up on the lake bottom and creates a toxic environment including botulism. If nothing else I would think it could contribute to weakening fish allowing for other diseases like vhs to attack a weakened individual.
Same on the south end. Still some dead and dying fish. Mostly smaller sheeps, but did see a couple large ones as well. Water temp and time length of die off doesn't seem to fit VHS. After seeing this on a larger scale. I do recall seeing these sized sheephead on occasion last fall doing the same death roll.
I have been on the lake 12 of the last 27 days and the die off is waning. I would say we are in the last stages of what ever this event is. I was on the water on Sunday from 5:30 in the morning until 7:30 pm (fishing and boating) and there are still dead or about to die fish, but a small percentage of what it was 2 weeks ago.
I was hanging out at the sandbar boat party scene (Streich's) south of Oshkosh this weekend, still a fair amount of dead sheeps. The wind was in a favorable direction, or else it would have been a lot worse. Saw numerous dead ones floating out in the middle of the lake on our ride in and out.
One sheep near shore was still alive, yet it was so out-of-it I was able to walk up to it and put my foot one inch from it, in less than a foot of water. It didn't even flinch.
There was a persistent dead fish stench at Streich's. It came in waves, but I never really experienced anything quite like it there before.
Down by lock number 4 in Appleton, I saw a sheephead struggling to stay upright on the surface, clearly gasping it's last breaths. A couple dead ones also. Otherwise, the Fox didn't look as bad.
I'm sure some walleye fry were involved as typically they are heading for the lake as the whites go up. However, the CO testing was done on the dead and dying white bass in the area, again, caused by low flow and/or strong easterly winds resulting in a CO buildup in the water by MM.
"The Fox River, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has a history of fish kills, dating back to the late 1950s, with at least 58 fish kills occurring during April–October 1988. Twenty fish species, including lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens, were affected. In situ bioassay tests of fathead minnow Pimephales promelas identified the origin of toxicity to be a motor endurance testing facility. Additional testing showed carbon monoxide (CO) to be the cause of toxicity. Blood samples taken both during in situ bioassays and from captured fish during fish kill episodes showed blood carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels of 32–97%. Fish kill episodes were enhanced by flow reversals in the Fox River caused by seiches from 55,730-ha Lake Winnebago. The motor endurance testing facility remains in operation; however, testing has been reduced and is monitored for compliance."
The Mercury test engine thing was stopped because of the returning walleye fry return to the lake near the surface of the water, and the theory was that the props created a whirlpool that chopped them up and retarded there journey to the lake. They would suspend testing for a time to let the fry go by.