Spring freeze results in fish kill at Walker Lake
“They deplete the lake of oxygen and that is when you see a wintertime die off of fish. It is usually in lakes and reservoirs that have a large amount of shallow water because they tend to freeze and thaw faster and refreeze faster,” said Divine.
Stone said this type of fish kill is a totally natural phenomenon. To be sure the fish were not diseased and there were no toxins in the lake, fish and water samples were sent to a lab in Rancho Cordova. There was nothing unusual about the water samples or fish tissue. Scavengers that included bald eagles, osprey, ravens and magpies ate the dead fish, which is the natural way such occurrences are cleanedup.
A dissolved oxygen problem has not occurred in Walker Lake in a very long time, probably 9-10 years, said Stone. It does occur regularly in McCoy Flat Reservoir off Highway 44.
“When it warms up, the fish want to get active and if there is ice on the lake you can have a dissolved-oxygen problem. They are not getting enough oxygen to breath,” said Stone.
Fish absorb oxygen gas that is dissolved in water through their gills. The main source of oxygen in water is through plant photosynthesis.
According to Divine, he had other reports this year of fish found dead in shallow Lassen County lakes. One report involved a lake in the Northeastern corner of the county, Dodge Reservoir. He said it most likely occurred in many places due to the prolonged cold spell this spring, mixed with a few warm days in between freezing temperatures.
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