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Cold Weather And Thick Ice Could Decrease Fish Numbers

March 2, 2014, 9:55 PM by Leland Steva

Cold Weather And Thick Ice Could Decrease Fish Numbers

The temperatures once again dipped below zero today. The sub-zero temps are keeping many people in their homes today, but the fish in the lakes across eastern South Dakota are having their homes become dangerous.

Aside from a few anglers braving the elements, it is quiet on lakes across eastern South Dakota today. As the brutal cold temperatures continue, there might be less fish to catch.

"When you get a winter like this with abnormally thick ice combine with a little bit of snow on top of that ice it cuts off a lot of sunlight penetrating through there and you can end up with depleted oxygen levels in some water," Regional Fisheries Manager Todd St. Sauver said. 

Regional Fisheries Manager for the South Dakota Games, Fish and Parks Department Todd St. Sauver says winter is always a stressful time for his department, but he says this year is more stressful than years past.

"This is an exceptional winter just because we iced over early. We got snow over the ice early and combined that with now an extremely cold temperatures all winter that made that ice very thick, a lot thicker than we normally see," St. Sauver said.

Lake Madison, Lake Herman, and Lost Lake are some of the lakes hit hardest by the thick ice. St. Sauver estimates there will be some lost fish, but the department will have to wait until the spring to see the exact number of fish lost. Until then, ice fisherman might have some difficulties reeling in the big catch.

"When oxygen levels start to decline as well sometimes it stresses the fish out a little bit and they might not be as eager to bite as they would be under normal conditions," St. Sauver said.

St. Sauver says that nothing can help the situation besides Mother Nature gracing the lakes with warmer weather.

St. Sauver says if they do find dead fish, they will make sure to re-stock the lakes as much as possible for a great summer fishing season.

To see the most recent fishing report across the state click here.

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