Dead fish to appear as ice begins to thaw

Photo from DNR

LANSING, Mich. – The warm-up of spring can’t be too far away because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding people of something we may see when the thaw comes.

Dead fish.

“Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill,” says Gary Whelan, the DNR Fisheries Division research manager in a press release. “As the season changes, it can be common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These kills are localized and typically don’t affect the overall health of fish populations or fishing quality.”

The very cold temperatures and heavy snow on top of ice can kill fish and other lake and stream creatures like turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish. When the ice and ice snow start to melt, people will start seeing those deaths.

The DNR says that when aquatic vegetation under the ice and snow dies from lack of sunlight, it uses up dissolved oxygen as it decays, causing the fish kills.

Anyone who sees a fish kill of larger thand 25 fish or more should contact their local DNR office or fill out the form on

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