TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Fish biologists say spawning stress created by "crazy weather" is the cause of the deaths of several hundred crappie in De Queen Lake in southwestern Arkansas.
A fish kill was reported to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission on April 21, when crappie were dying on the banks of the lake, Southwest Region District 7 Supervisor Eric Brinkman told the Texarkana Gazette for a story published Sunday.
"It was spawning stress. They were spawning during the crazy weather pattern where it was hot and then a period of cold. It was uncommon only crappie were dying this early in spring. It was spawning stress and a secondary infection," Brinkman said.
"Fish kills are not uncommon for crappie. This was unusual for being early in the spring," Brinkman said.
Brinkman said a fish pathologist needed to analyze crappie in the process of dying — not dead ones — so it caused a delay in finding out why the fish died.
"We finally found enough crappie dying so we could examine them," he said.
What they found, Brinkman said, was an infection: "It was a fungal infection on the gills leading to the deaths. It was such a severe infection, and they were not able to breathe while spawning."
Brinkman estimated the number of dead crappie, a popular fish among anglers, to be several hundred. He said there is no concern about the safety for human consumption of those that are being caught from the lake.
Fishermen who notice a fish kill should contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at the Hope office, (870) 777-5580, or the state headquarters in Little Rock at (800) 364-4263.