Golden Algae Blooms, Fish Die at Lake Wichita

Fish are dying in Lake Wichita, and those who live on the lake are worried. Outdoorsmen first noticed the deaths Monday morning. They called Texas Parks and Wildlife about the problem. Within minutes, officials had confirmed an outbreak of Golden Algae.

Brothers Johnny and Mike George first spotted the problem. They called officials and then Newschannel 6. They worry about the loss of the wildlife. "We've already had the water drop so far down that its made it a mud puddle and the only thing this lake had going for it was the fish. It had very healthy fish, big fish, nice fish, now were losing those too," said Johnny.

The brothers took our cameras around the lake. We found fish in various stages of death. Gulls, pelicans and other birds were working to get a meal from the ones still alive. "Usually you don't have all these gulls on this lake, and then all of a sudden they are out here scooping up whatever they can get before it quits swimming," explained Johnny.

The deaths are a result of a bloom of Golden Algae. Parks and Wildlife officials said certain conditions had come together to create an environment in which it could grow. Part of the cause could be the drought. The lack of rain causes what water is flowing to be very saline – one of the factors that encourages a bloom.

The algae bloom could last several months according to officials. In the early months of 2009, Lake Wichita dealt with a similar outbreak. In the span of 60 days, more than 200,000 fish died. Residents complained of a horrible smell around the lake. The shoreline was littered with dead fish.

The outbreak has the George brothers discouraged. They choose to live on the lake because of the outdoors-oriented lifestyle. Now, they worry what is to come. "Its sad cause all this lake had was good fishing," said Johnny.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6