BROWN COUNTY – Where have all the fish gone? It’s a question anglers are asking at at least one lake in Northeast Wisconsin.
Department of Natural Resources reports an almost total fish kill of Lily Lake in Brown County.
In recent weeks, crews surveyed two area lakes: Lily Lake east of Green Bay and Shea Lake in Kewaunee County.
Golden shiners flicker in the shallows of Lily Lake. DNR scientists say the minnows are about the only fish left in the 42-acre body of water.
“I would say it was at least 90 percent, if not 100 percent die-off of the oxygen-tolerant species,” said Steve Surendonk, DNR fisheries technician.
Surendonk says that means fish like northern pike, bass, and panfish are gone. He says thick ice, heavy snow and decaying lake vegetation are being blamed. And there is more.
“The aerator broke down mid-winter, and it was not able to be repaired in time for saving the fish,” said Surendonk.
More than 33,000 people visit the Brown County park on Lily Lake each year.
“Lily Lake is relatively one of the only inland lakes in Brown County. It’s also a great place for families to go, and there are some die-hard fishermen that live in our community,” said Matt Kriese, Brown County Parks Department assistant director.
Fifteen miles to the southeast on Shea Lake in Kewaunee County, Frank Bradley says he spent part of the spring cleaning up his shoreline.
“I picked up about 70 fish. I think it was probably the severity of the winter. This was unusual. Like I said, I’ve been out here 11 years and I had not seen anything this bad,” said Bradley.
The DNR says it found what is calls a sustainable fish population on the 32-acre lake.
“I would guess that that was a seasonal event. That could have been a disease issue with the fish, that were there,” said Surendonk.
As for Lily Lake, help may be on the way. More fish have been ordered.
“The northern pike will be stocked shortly as fry, and should do very well, because it’s an empty lake right now. The largemouth bass will be stocked likely in the fall, and panfish also will likely be stocked in the fall,” said Surendonk.
The DNR says it is surprised Lily Lake is the only lake in the area showing signs of winter kill, considering the harsh winter we just experienced.