Lake Cumberland water conditions stressing some fish species

Photo: WKYT/Phil Pendleton
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JAMESTOWN, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is monitoring water conditions at Lake Cumberland as biologists say fish are starting to show signs of stress.

This is because water temperatures are warmer and oxygen levels are being depleted.

“We have been experiencing some shad and alewife die-offs in different parts of the lake the past few weeks, which is due to the continued high water temperatures and deteriorating oxygen levels,” said Marcy Anderson, Southeastern District fisheries biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The striped bass bite had been good up to this week, but now the fish are getting sluggish, which is a sign they are getting stressed due to poor water quality conditions.”

Walleye and striped bass can live in Lake Cumberland because its 200-foot depth can support cool-water species. The two fish become stressed when dissolved oxygen levels fall below 3 mg/L. If levels drop below 2 mg/L, they won't be able to survive for an extended period of time.

“There’s nothing we can do to add oxygen to that lower level,” Ross said. “We just need cooler weather to bring surface temperatures down.”

Wildlife officials say these problems are not unique to Lake Cumberland, and these conditions can occur at large lakes.

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