As Spring approaches, owners of shallow ponds and lakes will have to watch out for fish kills due to the accumulation of snow and ice this winter. The lakes and ponds of Indiana are currently covered in up to twenty inches of thick ice. Neil Ledet, District Fisheries Biologist in northeastern Indiana, says this is a result of the long winter.
“This is a pretty unusual winter for us,” Ledet says, “We had early ice, a lot of snow, and with that ice thickness, there isn’t a lot of light penetration to get to the aquatic plants. We’ll see low oxygen levels in lakes and ponds. It could be a tough situation for shallow lakes and ponds”
Shoveling up snow will allow light to penetrate the ice, but Ledet says that once this becomes an issue there’s not much anyone can do about it. He explains what pond and lake owners CAN do if the same thing happens next winter.
“In the future, lake owners could make sure there aren’t a lot of weeds covering the lake before the winter comes,” Ledet says, “The important thing is that if people lose all of their pond, they’re going to want to start over with an appropriate pond stocking program. We have a pond management booklet to help that.”
Ledet says that fish kills occurred more often during the 1970’s and 80’s, when winters were a little more severe. If Lake residents and anglers discover fish kills on public waters they can contact their district fisheries biologist online at wildlife.in.gov.