Clean-up begins after thousands of fish die in Patriot Lake - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Clean-up begins after thousands of fish die in Patriot Lake

If you've been to Shelby Farms lately, you may have noticed something fishy going on at Patriot Lake. Thousands of fish are lining the banks of the lake in an apparent massive die-off.

Laura Adams of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy said the dead fish came as a surprise to park officials just over a week ago.  Not sure why it was happening, officials called the University of Memphis.

"They came out and took a sample of fish and a sample of water," Adams said. "They told us extinction was river shad only.  Not native fish - bream, bass, crappie, catfish..."

So how did a non-native fish make its way to Patriot Lake?

"Some fishermen came in and fished with river shad as bait, and the river shad must have gotten off the hook, and became prolific, and we have thousands of river shad that weren't supposed to live in a lake," Adams said.

Patriot Lake, Adams said, it not the right environment for river shad, which need a lot of oxygen in the water to survive.

"The oxygen level became low, partially from when the lake was low and the overcast skies," she said.

Officials started cleaning up around the lake Monday after it became clear that nature wouldn't be able to handle the massive amounts of dead fish.

"Once we realized it grew from few hundred to few thousand, we realized had to have human intervention," Adams said.

Officials stressed die-off was limited only to river shad, and the other fish in the lake were fine.  Because the problem started with fish used as bait, officials recommended that people planning on fishing in the lake use crickets or worms instead.

Click here to send an email to Lori Brown.

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