Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

OK: Current weather conditions have potential to cause fish kills

Much to the dismay of anglers and wildlife enthusiasts,
environmental conditions typical of late summertime can lead to
fish kills, especially in the state’s many small farm ponds. And
with the second hottest June on state record now in the books,
officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are
advising conditions may be right for fish kills sooner than normal
this year.

“While it is not unusual for environmental conditions to cause
fish kills with at least some regularity, those conditions don’t
usually arrive until later in the summer,” said Gene Gilliland,
assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “But we
are already receiving reports of fish kills from farm ponds, and we
want people to be prepared.”

Fish kills, or die-offs of what are sometimes significant
numbers of fish from a body of water, result from hot, dry weather
and environmental changes.

“When it gets this hot and dry, water levels in ponds and lakes
naturally get low while their temperatures rise, and that can lead
to low dissolved oxygen levels,” Gilliland said. “Combine these low
water levels and extreme temperatures with an overabundance of
nutrients from farm and lawn fertilizers, and you’ve got a recipe
for a fish kill.”

“Fish kills are nothing new, and they occur with some degree of
regularity in the late summer,” Gilliland said. “They usually don’t
threaten the stability of larger lake and reservoir fisheries, but
they can negatively impact anglers who fish in ponds and small

Measures that farm pond owners can take to prevent fish kills
need to be started in the late spring, such as employing aeration,
preventing livestock from accessing ponds and avoiding the overuse
of fertilizers on lands where run-off to ponds can occur. However,
there are things that can be done in an emergency if a pond owner
sees fish “gulping for air” on the surface – the first tell-tale
sign that water quality is deteriorating. These include the use of
emergency aeration using pumps, blowers or even farm machinery or
adding fresh water to the pond from a well.

For more information about preventing fish kills in farm ponds,
log on to
Pond owners can also contact their local fishery biologist. The
contact information can be found at


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