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Illinois hunting and fishing

Great egrets wade among floating dead fish at a pond on Springfield’s north side. Photos by Chris Young.

Fish kills could get worse

July 18, 2012 at 03:23 PM

The State Journal-Register

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there already have been hundreds of fish kills statewide with more on the way.

Extreme heat and drought can combine to lower water levels and reduce oxygen available to fish.

“The largest kill (in the past week) has been on Powerton Lake (along the Illinois River southwest of Pekin),” said Dan Stephenson, fisheries biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“There were hundreds of thousands of dead fish,” he said.

Dead fish at Powerton included sport fish like largemouth and smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, channel catfish and baitfish like shad.

Powerton Lake is a 1,426-acre cooling reservoir built for a fossil-fuel power plant by Commonwealth Edison Company in 1971.

Some types of fish are more susceptible than others.

“The coldwater fish like muskies, northern pike, walleye, stripers and hybrid stripers are taking it harder than the warm water species so far, especially up north,” he said.

Illinois hunting and fishing
Turkey vultures look for dead fish on the edge of a pond in Springfield.

During the period of July 9 – 15, significant fish kills have been reported at Sangchris Lake (near Rochester), Clinton Lake, Sugar Creek Lake on U.S. Forest Service property in the Shawnee National Forest, and the Kendall County Forest Preserve District Harris Pond.

Fish species reported killed at Sangchris Lake include largemouth bass, striped bass, shad, channel catfish and flathead catfish.

In Springfield, a “major kill” was reported on a small backwater pond on Spring Creek, just off Veterans Parkway near 8th St.

In addition to fish, mussel beds have dried up on the Embarras River near Charleston leading to a die-off of freshwater mussels.

Numerous smaller fish kills have been reported.

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.


Statewide Report of Fish Kills July 9-15

Mississippi River, northern Ilinois pools- minor kill of game fish including muskies and northern pike

Rock River, Sterling- minor kill of game fish including northern pike and muskies

Fox River, Aurora- hundreds of dead fish- mostly sucker species and a few dead muskies and northern pike.

Fox River, Silver Springs to Montgomery- hundreds of fish, again, mostly sucker species and a few muskies and northern pike

Kankakee River- Kankakee to Wilmington- numerous sucker species and a few muskies

DesPlaines River- Riverside/Lyons- a few sucker species and 2 muskies

Kendall County Forest Preserve District, Harris pond- substantial kill involving largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie

Sugar Creek Lake in the Shawnee Forest (USFS)- a substantial kill with several thousand dead fish- largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish

Private ponds and lakes in the Metro East area- 7 kills reported to the biologist

Rend Lake Sailboat Harbor- dozens of dead largemouth bass, tournament mortality.  Too hot during the tournament.

Embarras River- Lawrenceville- hundreds of dead fish between the Rt. 1 and the Highway 50 bridges- gizzard shad, flathead catfish, buffalo and sucker species.

Embarras River- Charleston- Many mussel beds have dried up leading to a mussel die-off

Little Wabash river- 20 miles South of Effingham.  Hundreds of dead fish

Little Wabash River- south of Mt. Erie

Little Wabash River- Wynoose-  Hundreds of dead fish

Vermillion River- Streator- thousands of dead fish just below the dam.  Many were asian carp

Illinois River Backwater - Bartonville- Mendenhall Road Wetlands- Sever fish kill. Many asian carp

Illinois River Backwater- Rice Lake- Minor fish kill

Spring Creek Backwater- north Springfield-  major kill on a small backwater pond

Sugar Creek- Sangamon Co.  minor kill-  all species

6 reported private pond fish kills in the west Peoria/Galesburg area

Powerton Lake- Tazewell County- Severe fish kill, tens of thousands of dead fish.  Many shad, largemouth and smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, channel catfish

LaSalle Lake- Hundreds of dead fish

Braidwood Lake- minor kill

Heidecke Lake- minor kill

Sangchris Lake- substantial kill of largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, shad, channel catfish and flathead catfish

Clinton Lake- substantial kill of hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, shad channel catfish and flathead catfish

Old hatchery pond, Village of Spring Grove-  100 dead largemouth bass

~ Compiled by Dan Stephenson, Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.

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