ELKO — Thousands of dead fish are washing up on the shores of Wildhorse Reservoir, victims of depleted oxygen caused by high temperatures and low water levels, state wildlife officials said Wednesday.
Joe Doucette, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said campers and anglers intending to head to the lake north of Elko over the Labor Day weekend will find less than ideal conditions.
“Fishing is going to be poor up there,” he said. “It’s probably going to be very smelly.”
Wildlife biologist Chris Drake said evidence of the die-off began last weekend.
“We estimate 8,000 to 11,000 trout and 750 to 1,000 perch died over the last couple of days,” Drake said. “We believe it is due to a lack of dissolved oxygen within the water.”
Though there have been occasional smaller fish kills over the past few years, Drake said this die-off is more significant than normal because of a combination of factors.
An unusually hot summer, coupled with more days of sunshine and lower water levels because of a lackluster winter, means warmer water.
Those conditions also spurred the growth of algae. Though the algae died off last week, the process of decomposition uses oxygen and further depletes oxygen levels in the water.