WINONA LAKE — Property owners along Lake Wawasee reported dead fish along the shores of Crow Bay and Kale Island. Recent fish kills have also been reported to the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams from Pike and Syracuse lakes as well.
Upon inspection by Lilly Center staff, it appeared the fish kill contained a variety of species and fish sizes.
Jeremy Price, previously a fisheries supervisor for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and now associate director at the Lilly Center, said it is difficult to pinpoint the specific reasons for a fish kill since multiple factors are at play.
“Spring can be a challenging time for fish. This year, our lakes have warmed 40% faster through May than in 2022. Rapidly rising water temperatures plus the usual spring stressors like spawning almost certainly played a role. Other factors like human activity cannot be totally ruled out. Spraying herbicides meant to kill aquatic plants can also harm the fish, depending on how the treatments are applied and when treatments occur.”
The Lilly Center collected physical data and water samples from Lake Wawasee on June 2, 3, 5 and 6. Oxygen levels appeared to be within normal range. Results from the lab did not note anything of concern.
Although unpleasant, spring fish kills are part of the natural seasonal cycle of a lake. In most cases, the impact of a fish kill on fish populations is minimal and barely noticeable. However, increasing size or frequency of kills can be a sign of underlying problems with pollution or water quality and have long-term effects on the ecosystem.
“The Lilly Center will have our research team on Lake Wawasee and 13 other lakes every week through mid-August. We’ll continue to monitor water quality as the summer progresses,” added Price.
Although this fish kill does not appear to be related to blue-green algae toxins, the Lilly Center encourages people to keep pets and families safe this summer by signing up for toxin notifications.
Do you have additional information about this event or have related questions about your lake? Contact the Lilly Center by calling (574) 372-5281, or emailing [email protected].