LINCOLN, Neb. – Spring fish die-offs in Nebraska are not unusual. Reports of these fish kills – which have been due to natural causes – have come from a variety of water bodies across the state in recent weeks.
“Winter is a hard time for fish, and they can experience stress coming out of the winter,” said Daryl Bauer, fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Our relatively cold spring coupled with wild temperature swings and the recent warming trend can further stress fish.”
Bauer added that many species of fish spawn in the spring and annual spawning rituals add even more stress. “Ultimately, stressed fish are more likely to succumb to some sort of infection or disease,” he said. “Fish with bacterial infections have been observed on many waters in the past couple of weeks.”
These die-offs are an example of the significant natural mortality that fish populations experience every year. Natural mortality may be significant, but it never eliminates those populations. In fact, anglers are still catching healthy fish even while some fish are dying.
Fish taken by angling should be safe for consumption if the fish are thoroughly cooked.
The public should promptly report numbers of dead or dying fish to a conservation officer, Game and Parks district office, or the 24-hour Nebraska State Patrol pollution complaint number at 402-471-4545.
For more information about fishing in Nebraska, or to buy a fishing or park permit, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.