Recent flooding on the Root River system in southeast Minnesota caused fish loss at the DNR's Lanesboro Fish Hatchery. But the losses will have a minor impact on statewide trout stocking programs, according to DNR officials. The loss was caused by flooding on Duschee Creek on June 1.
"This was the worst flooding that the Lanesboro Hatchery crew had ever experienced," said Darryl Bathel, the DNR's coldwater hatchery supervisor. "The 12 main raceways were completely flooded by as much as 18 inches of water. Trout in the raceways were no longer confined and were free to mix and find their way out of the building."
When the water subsided many fish were stranded in small pools of water. DNR Fisheries personnel and volunteers saved many of the fish. The hatchery lost about 1,700 brown trout yearlings, 1,500 rainbow trout yearlings, 28,00 rainbow trout fingerlings and less than 24 brown trout brood stock. Most of the hatchery's yearling trout were stocked this spring before the flood waters arrived.
Fish die-offs common in spring
Every spring the DNR receives reports of dead crappies, sunfish and bullheads washing up on the shores of some lakes. This year is no different.
"Most of these spring die-offs are due to columnaris disease, a bacterial infection that occurs in most freshwater fish species," said Joe Marcino, head of the DNR pathology laboratory. "This is a naturally occurring disease with no known remedy."
The disease was first described in 1922. The name came from the way the bacteria pile up in hay stack-like columns. It breaks out when the water temperatures rise about 55 degrees. When fish move into shallows in spring, they are more concentrated and more susceptible to contract the disease from other fish. Marcino said nobody knows why some lakes have outbreaks of the disease and others don't.
Columnaris is not known to cause any harm to humans. It usually affects the skin and gills of fish. The flesh is not affected and is safe for human consumption.
People who notice large numbers of dead fish are asked to call the DNR at (651) 296-0777.
Pillager dam shore fishing area to be improved
Shore fishing downstream of the Pillager Dam on the Crow Wing River should be more enjoyable this summer after completion of a cooperative project between the DNR and Minnesota Power.
The Pillager shore fishing area is a popular with many people. The cooperative project will improve the entrance road, provide an 8-car parking lot and create a paved path to a handicapped accessible 40-foot shore fishing station. The project makes the area more convenient for the public and accessible for the handicapped.
"This project will give all anglers access to fishing below the dam," said John Voelker, DNR Area Trails and Waterways assistant supervisor. "Cooperative efforts like this not only expand recreational opportunities for the handicapped, they make recreational activities enjoyable for everyone."
The site will have a canoe portage, two boat docks and a watercraft-accessible campsite.
Capra, Hough win local bass tournament
A team of Dean Capra and Ross Hough won the Minnesota Pro/Am Bass tournament on Gull Lake on June 16.
Capra and Hough weighed in six bass at 24.04 pounds, including a 4.12-pound lunker. Second place went to Patrick Bartley and Kevin Derring with 22.44 pounds. Third place was taken by Bill Hildebrand and Steve McParland with 21.24 pounds. In fourth were Dean Meier and Jim Severson with 20.20 pounds and in fifth were Tom Braaten and Jeremy Keeh with 19.00 pounds.
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