Fish cleanup set for Monday
SLAYTON -- It may not be the most pleasant of tasks, but it has to be done.
That's why Slayton resident Mark Slettum has organized a fish cleanup following the winter's fish kill.
"If you live on the lake, appreciate the lake, or just love living within our communities, let's get out there and get the fish cleaned up," Slettum said in a press release. "It is our responsibility to ... just get the job done."
Volunteers are asked to meet at 10 a.m. Monday on the first dike on Lake Shetek, near Valhalla Island; and are asked to bring buckets, baskets, pitch forks, shovels and waders if possible.
The fish will be loaded into a truck and buried in local area fields, though volunteers may collect some fish for their garden if they like.
"There's lots of carp floating around. We're getting lots of calls asking if we're going to be coming along to clean up dead fish along their shoreline and that's just not going to happen," said Ryan Doorenbof, the supervisor at DNR Fisheries in Windom. "We don't have the resources or people to do that."
Doorenbof said the DNR has not yet determined how severe the pocket fish kill was on Lake Shetek -- staff study the number and species of remaining fish to determine how many were lost -- but said "South Shetek probably took the most severe kill."
Other lakes affected include Buffalo Lake near Dovray; Bloody Lake and Fish Lake north of Currie; East Stay Lake in Lincoln County; and St. James Lake in Watonwan County, which Doorenbof estimated took twice the hit that Shetek did, but fish of all species stocked in St. James Lake survived the winter.
"There's been the highest number of pocket winter kills since I've been in the area," said Doorenbof, who has worked at the DNR for 11 years. "I think we got about three times our normal snow volume." Lakes covered in the heaviest snowfall experience worse kills; snow blocks light entering the lake, stunting the photosynthesis process that produces oxygen for fish.
He said aerators don't prevent a kill entirely, but can help provide pockets of more oxygenated water for fish. A true fish kill, he said, is an absolute elimination of all the fish in a body of water, something neither he nor his co-workers has ever seen in an area lake.
"The idea of a lake being completely dead is a total myth in our experience," he said.