3/20/2014 4:41:00 PM North Center Lake fish coming up dead
by DENISE MARTIN
In the last couple weeks since the Chisago County DNR Conservation Officer reported a rare fish kill on North Center Lake; state fisheries staff have been busy responding. Dept of Natural Resources Regional Fisheries spokesperson Roger Hugill tells the Press the North Center Lake oxygen content was sampled March 13. When it tested very low and when a serious fish die-off occurs this sets an “action plan” in motion, Hugill explained. Fisheries will be very busy as soon as the lake ice melts.
Causes of fish die-off can be variable and it’s difficult to say how severe the fish loss is on North Center Lake at this time. Hugill said DNR will electro-fish and net after ice out to sample which species remain strong and to estimate the ability of adult members to reproduce. Expect to see boats with nets or odd-looking fishing equipment on North Center early this spring. “We assume this is fairly severe,” Hugill commented based on photos and actual site visits. “But it’s hard to predict until we get out after the ice is gone.”
There have been extreme fish kills reported all over the state this winter. Hugill said it can happen when the ice is covered by snow and no light penetrates, and when there’s a late ice out, which is certainly the case this year. A normal spring will bring ice thawing and warming temps which create little channels carrying oxygen to the water more quickly. The depth of North Center is also a factor and probably why even bottom rough fish were killed in this recent episode. “It is a natural thing,” Hugill added, and isn’t attributed to pollution or manmade causes, “but on North Center this level of die-off is rare.”
Come spring; if the fisheries experts find certain species are down in number the DNR will stock the lake with needed adult pairs. Ordinarily the only stocking done by the DNR is for walleye. Hugill explained that 90 percent of fish reproduce just fine on their own. He stresses the importance of good habitat to help support the wildlife.