UPDATE: Dead Fish Washing Ashore at Grand Island Lake

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Grand Island officials say that fish kills at Pier Lake are not an unusual occurrence.

But another city-owned lake has suffered its first-ever die off this winter, and wildlife officials say it's not a typical winter kill.

Parks and Recreation Director Todd McCoy says they noticed dead fish trapped under the ice at Suck's Lake more than a month ago.

"When the ice melted earlier this week a lot of the fish came up and it was kind of a big mess," says McCoy. "The Parks Department has been out in force and has been cleaning those up, and for the most part I think it's pretty much clean now."

Thousands of blue gill and gizzard shad were found dead, along with hundreds of channel catfish and rainbow trout.

"I think the big factor was the winter - the ice that was on the lake, some of the snow that was on the lake, and the water level being down in the lake because of the drought," says McCoy.

While those are the main reasons for winter time fish kills, Nebraska Game and Parks Fisheries Division District Manager Brad Newcomb believes that in this case waterfowl like geese and ducks contributed to the problem.

"I think the water quality conditions in this lake led to the fish kill with a lot of algae growth and dying algae which led to low oxygen and then dead fish," says Newcomb.

Newcomb says those kind of kills usually happen in warmer months, but he's confident that's what happened at Suck's Lake.

The city and state both say they want the lake to be a good fishing spot again.

"Suck's Lake has always been a nice fishing lake that has great access with the trail going through there," says McCoy. "We would like to continue to see that as a nice fishery."

"These small urban lakes are very important, they have great access to the public, many children can go fish there which is something we like to emphasize and develop," says Newcomb.

Newcomb says they've canceled stocking plans for now, but when the weather warms up they'll sample the population and come up with a recovery plan.

Officials say reducing water fowl numbers will likely be a part of any recovery plan. That may include using scare tactics like loud noises or fireworks to drive the birds away.

Original Story:

City workers have been scooping up the rotting, stinking carcasses of dead fish that have been washing ashore at oxygen-depleted Suck's Lake in Grand Island.

City parks and recreation director Todd McCoy says that "it will be a mess for a little bit."

McCoy says ice and snow prevented much new oxygen from entering the water.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission fisheries specialist Brad Newcomb blames the low oxygen levels on waterfowl waste that has raised nitrogen levels and algae in the lake.

Newcomb says the commission is unlikely to continue stocking fish at the lake until the city reduces the number of waterfowl there.