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Staff from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are investigating dead and dying fish near the spillway at Wilson Reservoir in Russell County. In late March, KDWPT district fisheries biologist Scott Waters investigated reports of dead fish in Spillway Cove near the lake’s dam and found approximately 50 dead fish.
“Probably half of the fish were adult smallmouth bass,” Waters said. “The rest of the mix was made up of walleye, drum and one striped bass. They appeared healthy, and some were still alive, swimming lethargically.”
Dead fish and water samples have been sent to labs for testing, and results are expected in early May. Investigators have identified no obvious reason for the die-off, which may number several hundred fish. The number of dead fish showing up each day appears to be slowing down.
The 9,000-acre reservoir, known for its crystal clear water and rugged prairie surroundings, has suffered through the long-term drought. The water level is more than 8 feet below what is considered normal; however, at this time, it does not appear connected to the dead fish. There is no evidence that any threat is posed to anglers or lake users.
“Our staff will continue to monitor the situation,” said KDWPT Fisheries Section chief Doug Nygren. “And we’ll inform the public as soon as test results are received and evaluated or we learn anything new.”