Why does spring sometimes = dead fish?
Councillor Phil Bannon removing dead fish
during the Crappie die off in 2009
Councillor Phil Bannon and Dr. Brian Laing
working hard to remove dead fish from the
Lake in 2009
Tyler Clair and Kevin Wigmore cleaning
shoreline of dead fish and debris
– Earth Day 2012
By Charlene Jones
Back in the mid to late “90’s it was the Great Wall-Eye die off. This recurred in some areas of southern Ontario in 2005. Since then we have been alerted to the carp crash, a die off of alarming proportions which happened in 2010. That carp corpse caper was the result of one Koi Herpes, according to the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.
It stinks. No matter which way you
turn it, dead fish stink.
Who canforget the great Crappie Crash of 2009 when the shoreline seconded as a fish funeral home? The smell permeated everywhere until Councillor Phil Bannon along with Rick Wigmore and several executive members of the MLRA rode around the shoreline on Rick’s Raven, poles in hands, nets available and spent several hours pulling dead fish from their last hiding places.
We have had a strange spring: heat
for at least a week in March,very
early by anyone’s reckoning, followed again by the dives in temperature we who live here expect, back to single digits and below zero. Was that the cause of so many dead fish this spring lining our shoreline once more?
A call to the MOE helped to clear the situation. “No, not temperatures.”
stated Gary Miller, an avid fisherman and watcher of all things fishy. “No doubt, it’s a virus.” Miller reported Lake Simcoe, Rice Lake, Canal Lake, and Lake Scugog have all experienced the same phenomena this season. The dead and dying come from the ranks of Sunfish, Crappie (which died off here in our lake in masses in 2009), small mouth bass.
We are as you know a kettle lake so the question remaining is how did the virus get into our waters? The other waterways noted have connecting streams and river systems such that what affects one lake affects them all. In our case, we sit at a higher elevation than Lake Simcoe and feed into that lake not the other way around.
Miller says the MNR which has a site established at the tip of Lake Simcoe on Sibbald’s Point is in process of getting a still live, but dying fish to the laboratory in Guelph for analysis to discover exactly which virus is the cause.
My husband still wondered, “What about the lack of minnows?” My husband was not satisfied with the absence of one of his favorite spring indicators: tiny shoreline minnows feeding happily around the lakeshore near our house.
Again, Miller’s understanding of things piscine came in handy. “Minnows will leave an area if a large pike, or even a large mouth bass is spawning. Those fish eat the littler minnows, so they vacate.”
Luckily a neighbor reported lots of minnows all around his crib. As for the fish deaths, we have to wait until we know which virus has caused it.