“Stressed” trout washed up en masse on the shores of this Kansas lake. here’s why


Dozens of dead trout could be seen washed up on shore or floating in shallow water Friday morning near the south dock of Shawnee Lake. The already stressed fish died after being thrown into the lake as part of a stocking on February 23. The freezing condition was more than they could handle, a Shawnee County Parks and Recreation official said.

Massive mortalities resulted from the February 23 stocking of thousands of rainbow trout in the freezing waters of Shawnee Lake.

Although rainbow trout are a cold water fish, many died because they were already stressed and the freezing state of the lake waters at the time was more than they could handle. , a Shawnee County Parks and Recreation official said Friday.

“We lost 100 to 150 fish that the fishery was allowing were already stressed and that caused them to die,” said Mike McLaughlin, the department’s communications and public information manager. “They’re going to deliver more in October to make up for the ones we’ve lost.”

More than 60 dead trout could be seen later in the morning washed up on the shore or dead in the shallow waters near the south wharf of the lake.

Department park maintenance staff removed dead trout daily as they became visible, McLaughlin said.

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The dead fish were part of the same release

Rainbow trout were brought here as part of a program under which Lake Shawnee has been stocked since 1979 with this type of fish, not typically found in Kansas, in the fall and in late winter or early spring.

The trout comes from Crystal Lake Fisheries in Ava, Mo.

Shawnee County Commissioners voted in October 2019 to enter into a contract that would see the county pay Crystal Lake Fisheries $57,400 per year for three years to stock the lake with rainbow trout in the spring and summer. ‘fall.

Two trucks were used to supply the lake in late February, McLaughlin said.

“The first truck released trout at the south boat ramp on the morning of Feb. 23, when the overnight temperature was 3 degrees,” McLaughlin said. “The high that day was just 21 degrees.”

The 100 to 150 trout that died were all part of that release, McLaughlin said.

“The second truck delivered fish on the afternoon of February 25, when it was 30 degrees, and the trout did well,” he said.

Strong winds were blowing from the north at the lake Friday morning, when the Topeka National Weather Office reported gusts here reaching 36 mph.

“Trout sink when they die, so – when the wind blows from the north and pushes the water back to the south launch – some of the fish that expired and weren’t caught that that day are stranded in shallow areas,” McLaughlin said.

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“Shawnee Lake is fine and safe to fish”

A total of 7,000 pounds of trout were released Feb. 23 and 25 into the lake, though it’s unclear how many individual fish that was, McLaughlin said.

“Fish are measured by weight, not number, because they are different sizes, so the number varies with each stocking,” he said. “Thousands of fish are released with each stocking of trout.”

Dead trout washed up Friday morning on the south boat ramp at Shawnee Lake.

Dead trout washed up Friday morning on the south boat ramp at Shawnee Lake.

The recent trout deaths are “an unusual event that has to do with the weather,” McLaughlin said.

“Lake Shawnee is fine and safe to fish,” he said. “We will continue to see some fish stranded and we will remove them as soon as we can.”

No similar past incidents at Shawnee Lake could be recalled Friday by anyone at Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, McLaughlin said.

“A colleague recalls a decade or more ago the trout were stocked and the weather suddenly got warmer and some trout were lost due to the sudden temperature change,” he said .

According to Topeka Capital-Journal records, when water temperatures reach 65 degrees or more, trout usually stop feeding, and many either die or head for deeper, cooler water.

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Tim Hrenchir can be reached at [email protected] or 785-213-5934.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: ‘Stressed’ trout die in Kansas’ Lake Shawnee after being restocked


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