No Signs of Winter Kill at Ashtabula

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Joey Marini
“There is no real recipe for Winter Kill,” said Fisheries Biologist, BJ Kratz. “They aren’t too predictable as there are so many different variables. You can hypothesize but that’s about it.”
If you were to drive down several lakes, reservoirs, and ponds in the area, you’d find prominent evidence that Winter Kill is quite unforgiving, but also quite a mystery. It has not been an issue in Lake Ashtabula since 2017. The year before that also had minor Winter Kill. The majority of dead fish were bullheads, with a few walleyes, perch, and mussels. The location of the 2017 minor Winter Kill was the northern part of the lake, up by Sibley.
“It was really not too common to see mussels. They’re bottom dwellers and for them to float up was a really unique opportunity for us to learn,” continued Kratz.
Winter Kill can come from factors like snow accumulation, duration of winter, onset and offset of ice, algae growth, and many other variables. Areas that are shallow, like the north end of Lake Ashtabula, are more common to be lethal to fish. “There are isolated pockets where oxygen can not reach the fish.”
With the Spring upon us and boats revving their engines, it is important to take into consideration local laws, regulations, and restrictions. If you have any questions about Winter Kill or if your lake has been affected, please contact the North Dakota Game and Fish at (701) 328 – 6300.