Fish are dying because of the heat and low lake levels. The extreme temperatures are lowering the amount of oxygen in the water. Also, that water is heating faster because the lake levels are so low. Even hatcheries are shipping out fish because of the short water supply.
There are five hatcheries throughout the state, and all are either close to or already under restrictions because there's not enough water to pump. Archer County Texas Parks and Wildlife will have shipped out 700 pounds of koi fish by the end of the week. Hatchery Manager Dennis Smith says they are harvesting koi ponds earlier because Archer County is in Stage Two Water Restrictions, and "Lake Kemp is at 1131.2 feet. Once it drops to 1125, that triggers Stage Three of the Drought Contingency Plan. And at Stage Three, there's no water supply to the hatchery." But the problem doesn't end there. Water troubles are getting so dire at area lakes, fish populations are suffering.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Assistant District Biologist Robert Mauk says, "Right now you can see several dead fish out here (Sikes Lake) due to the low water levels and lack of oxygen." He says Sikes Lake, Plum Lake, and the Wichita Borrow Pit are all having trouble keeping fish alive. And water levels are sinking every day. Wichita Falls Resident Geoffrey Gerrard says, "It's harder to find good areas to fish." And Hunter Robertson says, "We can't really get to the places to fish that we used to. So we go to the more private ponds to where we know there's fish that we can catch because lately we haven't been catching much fish."
Fishermen say they are heading out earlier in the morning or later at night to avoid the hottest part of the day. Experts say koi fish are very important to area lakes because they are used as food for bass. Since the fish are being shipped out earlier because of the water shortage, the koi are smaller. This also means less for the bass.