It’s Crappie!

by · May 15, 2009

Residents of Musselman’s Lake Were Shocked to Find a Large Die Off of Fish

Residents of Musselman’s Lake were shocked to find a large die off of fish on Thursday. Charlene and Harold Co Chairpersons of the MLRA Fisheries immediately contacted the LSRCA who were closed and then contacted the MNR. They assured Charlene that die-offs like this have occurred at Wilcox Lake due to extreme temperature fluctuations but that they would monitor the situation.

In the meantime Dr. Laing, Head of our science committee and his wife Christine, (President MLRA) gathered up live specimens and took them up to the LSRCA for examination. They were told that the LSRCA could not do the biopsies but would pass on the fish to the proper authorities.

In the meantime, Dr. Laing thinks he’s identified Columnaris a bacterial disease that attacks Black Crappie as the culprit. (see below) On Friday, Brian and Christine removed a large bucket of fish from their dock area. Residents, Rick and Linda Wigmore members of the MLRA executive went around the lake in their boat and picked up a large bucket of floaters. We would encourage Lake front owners to use nets or pool scoops to remove all dead fish from their waterfront and bury them.

We will post more news as we have it but to date this has affected the Black Crappie population only.

The good news is that this is a bait fish only recently introduced to the Lake probably by fishermen and not one of our indigenous species.

Healthy Fish

Diseased Crappie

Dead Crappie
(photos courtesy of Dr. Laing)


A bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Flexibacter columnaris. This disease is usually associated with some kind of stress condition such as high water temperature, low dissolved oxygen concentration, crowding, or handling. Symptoms of this disease include grayish-white spots on some part of the head, fins, gills, or body usually surrounded by an area with a reddish tinge. The columnaris lesions on different species of fish vary in size, location, and appearance. On fingerling rainbow trout, a lesion usually originates on the back of the fish and progresses down each side resembling a saddle. On crappies, the lesions are generally confined to the fins and gills and rarely extend to the body. The lesions on bullheads generally appear as small circular areas with sharp distinct outlines. Although columnaris most commonly involves external infections it can occur as an internal systemic infection with no visible external signs. Scrapings from a columnaris lesion placed under a microscope will reveal long, thin, rod shaped motile bacteria. The bacterial clumps form microscopic columns or dome shaped masses, hence the name columnaris.

Filed Under: MLRA News