Golden Algae Kills Hundreds of Fish in Plum Lake

Dead fish are turning up at Plum Lake, and officials say it's all because of golden algae.  This is the first time in 15 years golden algae has appeared in Plum Lake during this time of year.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Assistant District Biologist Robert Mauk says while golden algae doesn't affect humans, he doesn't recommend fishing at Plum Lake right now because of a smaller fish population.  The heat is taking its toll on Texoma. Mauk says hot, dry weather is causing more water to evaporate at Plum Lake, but the chlorides are remaining behind making the water saltier and easier for the golden algae to grow. He says, "Because of the fish kill, the golden algae fish kill at Plum Lake, we have moved our stockings every two weeks from Plum to South Weeks Lake. Last week it was stocked with 400 channel catfish. And this week it will also receive 400 channel catfish. And most likely will be stocked until Plum Lake is healthy again."

Mauk took samples at Plum Lake today, and he says the golden algae cells are about half from what they were last week. But they are still high enough levels that fish are dying. He says, "You won't find many dead ones around the lake now, but it still has golden algae. I would not suggest. If you want to catch fish, I would look to fish other places. Though there are no health concerns to humans being around the lake or fishing for fish in the lake."  Just today the Wichita Falls City Council officially approved fishing at the South Weeks pond. And residents are already catching several fish. Resident Carlos Gould says, "Here (South Weeks), I caught more fish than I do any other place."

So far hundreds of fish have died because of the golden algae at Plum Lake.  Officials say there is nothing they can do to treat the problem, and it will just have to go away on its own. They say golden algae kills fish by releasing toxins into the water. The algae only affects gill breathing organisms.

Jessica Abuchaibe, Newschannel 6.