Heavy snowfall and thick ice over the winter were difficult on some North Dakota lakes. More than two dozen lakes across the state suffered partial, significant or total winterkill, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
At least nine lakes suffered total winterkill, meaning all fish in the lakes died.
“North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists investigated winterkills at several lakes this spring, and some were considered significant enough to affect the quality of fishing,” a press release from the department said.
Winterkill occurs when snow and ice cover a lake, limiting the sunlight that can reach aquatic plants. The plants die and decompose, which uses dissolved oxygen in the water. When oxygen depletion becomes severe enough, fish die. Winterkill is worse in winters with abundant early snowfall and late ice-out.
Some lakes that were sampled that showed partial winterkill include Pipestem and Jamestown reservoirs (Stutsman County), Green Lake (McIntosh County), Woodhouse Lake (Kidder County), Patterson Lake (Stark County), Crooked Lake and Scooby Lake (McLean County).
A total fish kill means all fish died, a significant kill is when the game fish population is greatly reduced and a partial kill means dead fish were observed but catchable numbers of game fish are still present.
Confirmed lakes with total or significant winterkill are listed by county. For more information on individual lakes, or to report fish kills that may not be on the list, anglers can contact the local Game and Fish district office.
- Burke – Powers Lake (significant), Short Creek Dam (significant)
- Burleigh – Mitchell Lake (total)
- Eddy – Battle Lake (significant)
- Emmons – Baumgartner Lake (total), Jake’s Lake (total)
- Foster – Juanita Lake (significant)
- Griggs – Carlson-Tande Dam (significant)
- Hettinger – Larson Lake (total), Mott Watershed Dam (total)
- Kidder – Etta-Alkaline Complex (significant), Leno Lake (total), Rafferty Lake (total), Remmick Lake (significant)
- Logan – Logan (Mueller) WMA (significant)
- McInstosh – Lehr WMA (total)
- McKenzie – Leland Dam (significant), Sather Dam (significant)
- McLean – Coal Lake (total)
- Morton – Crown Butte Dam (total)
- Pierce – Buffalo Lake (significant)
- Richland – Grass Lake (significant)
- Rolette – School Section Lake (significant)
- Sargent – Bergh Slough (significant), Fiala Lake (significant)
- Stutsman – Gaier Lake (significant), Sunday Lake (significant)
- Walsh – Matejcek Dam (significant)
- Wells – Harvey Dam (significant)
- Williams – Cottonwood Lake (significant), McGregor Dam (significant), Tioga Dam (significant)