I'm really bummed about this. This is one of two year around trout fisheries in Oklahoma and what I consider my "home waters" being it is the closest trout fishery to me
Fish kill reported in Lower Illinois River
By KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Published: 10/7/2011 2:40 AM
Last Modified: 10/7/2011 5:35 AM
Wildlife officials reported dozens of native fish were counted in a fish kill reported Thursday in the Illinois River below Tenkiller Dam and dozens more were carried off by vultures or were hidden below the murky water.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stopped stocking trout in the river Sept. 20. It is one of only two year-round trout fisheries in the state. But only one trout was counted among the dead fish. Instead, biologists counted 21 paddlefish in the 25-30 pound size, between 75 and 100 blue catfish up to 8 pounds in size and 15 channel catfish dead on the spot. Walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, drum, buffalo, shad and even one gar were found dead.
A fisherman who was at the pool below the sluice tube at the dam Wednesday evening reported the dead fish on Thursday morning, said Jim Burroughs, East Central Region fisheries supervisor.
Biologists arrived to find "literally hundreds" of vultures on the site and bits of fish remains scattered about and carcasses dragged away from the stream. Other dead fish likely were hidden below the murky water. "The count we have is actual fish identified and counted," Burroughs said. "There were considerably more than that."
The die-off would be considered a small kill at some larger rivers, he said. "The thing is that's a fairly small area. It's a pretty good-sized kill for that area."
Some fish died because they were stranded as water dropped, others most likely died due to low oxygen levels. Hundreds of fish in the river were "piping," sucking air at the surface of the water, he said. Biologists took an oxygen level reading of 1.48 parts per million in the pool where the fish died. State standards call for 6 parts per million with occasional dips to 5 as acceptable.
Online records for the Tulsa District Corps of Engineers gauge on the river at Gore has registered between 2 and 3 parts per million for days. Even when Southwest Power Administration runs water for power generation it has only been rising to between 4 and 5 parts per million. Power was generated Thursday afternoon and oxygen levels temporarily rose above 4 parts per million.
For years a leak in the sluice gate at Tenkiller Dam provided a trickle of water at about 75 cubic feet per second that kept the Lower Illinois River fishery going. The leak was fixed last year and so, legally, all the water the lake can hold is allocated to power and municipal uses.
The dying fish don't provide incentive to run water through the dam, said Ross Adkins, Tulsa District Corps of Engineers spokesman. "It's not that easy," he said. "That storage is paid for. There's just no water left that we can release."
Low oxygen levels likely killed the fish, Burroughs said. Still, the state Department of Environmental Quality is responding to the site, said public information officer Skylar McElhaney. "We respond just to see if there are any toxins or pollution sources contributing to the fish kill, just to make sure," she said.
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