Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lake Waurika White Bass Kill

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have received reports of a number of dead white bass at Lake Waurika, and though recent heavy rains and lake conditions have limited research opportunities, biologists are working to understand just what killed the fish.

“We want people to know that we are aware of the white bass kill at Lake Waurika, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” said Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The disease that was killing them seems to have run its course because there doesn’t appear to be any significant number of fish continuing to die. The bigger problem right now is that recent weather is limiting the amount of research we can do on the water.”

Cofer said biologists cannot thoroughly research the loss of white bass — one of Oklahoma’s most popular sport fish — because boat ramps have been closed due to heavy rains, and lake access is currently limited to shorelines.

“"Based on the signs and the fact that only white bass seem to have been killed, we can rule out pollution. Similar fish kills have affected other state lakes in the past, such as Tenkiller, Texoma, Foss, Altus-Lugert and Ft. Cobb, and lakes have been affected in Kansas and South Dakota” Cofer said. “In these cases, the condition has run its course and not returned. Thankfully, Waurika has abundant populations of white bass, and though we are concerned and unsure of exactly how many white bass were killed at this point, the number doesn’t appear to be significant in terms of the total number of white bass in the lake. In the fall, we’ll survey the fish populations and will have a little better idea of exactly how much the lake has been affected.”

Cofer said no apparent impact to hybrid striped bass — a cross between the white bass and striped bass — has been observed.

Officials with the Wildlife Department first learned of the fish kill through reports from concerned members of the public. “We’re glad the public is concerned because that’s how we caught wind of this,” Cofer said. “We want everyone to know that we are watching the situation closely, and we encourage people to continue helping the Department by reporting unusual observations in the outdoors.”

According to Cofer, there is no known impact to humans when eating healthy white bass caught from lakes experiencing similar fish kills, and anglers should continue enjoying the fishing at Lake Waurika .

“The recent rains may have put some limitations on anglers across the state recently, but I am confident that the high water is going to make fishing great all over the state this summer and for years to come, including Lake Waurika,” Cofer said.

Story courtesy of the
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

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