Bacteria likely cause of Arkansas' Harris Brake fish kill

HARRIS BRAKE – A microorganism known as columnaris bacteria is the likely cause of a fish kill on Harris Brake Lake in Perry County. Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tested the fish last week and found the bacteria.

Last week, a property owner on the 1,300-acre lake first reported about 10 fish floating near his dock. After biologists from the AGFC investigated the report, several more fish were found floating and along the shoreline throughout the lake. In all, about 300 dead fish were found on the lake. No other dead fish species were observed during the inspection.

AGFC biologist Matt Horton said columnaris is a common bacteria that has shown to be harmful to many fish species, but is not transferable to humans. “It is usually a secondary infection, so we suspect that the white bass were stressed from spawning and contracted the bacteria due to weak immune systems,” Horton explained. “Warmer than normal water temperatures during the spawn most likely added additional stress to the fish,” he added.

Over the past few days, biologists have been inspecting the lake for additional fish, but no new dead white bass were discovered. “I also believe the majority of fish that were sick have already died and we should not see many more mortalities,” Horton said.

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