Fish kill at lakeGreg Pruitt has lived by Patterson Lake for nine years and fished it every spare minute he could. Over the past few days, Pruitt has looked out on the shores of the lake he has fished so many times wondering what the future will bring for the Dickinson recreational area he says had become quite the fishery the last two years.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Greg Pruitt has lived by Patterson Lake for nine years and fished it every spare minute he could.
Over the past few days, Pruitt has looked out on the shores of the lake he has fished so many times wondering what the future will bring for the Dickinson recreational area he says had become quite the fishery the last two years.
Thousands of dead fish float in the water or lay on the shore of the lake southwest of Dickinson.
“It’s the worst feeling you could have as a fisherman. Words can’t explain it,” Pruitt said. “I could walk down from my house and throw a pole in and get a couple walleyes.”
Pruitt said being able to do that close to home as opposed to having to drive to Lake Sakakawea has been great the last couple of years and it’s disappointing to see it gone.
Adding to the disappointment is the fact that good fisherman will catch and release fish to let them get bigger and hope for the eventual “wall-hanger.”
“All of a sudden Mother Nature takes over and the fish that you release at nine pounds, you’re hoping to give somebody else a chance to hang on their wall is now floating on the shore dead,” Pruitt said.
Jeff Hendrickson, the southwest district fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Dickinson, said they don’t know if Patterson experienced a total kill or not until they get some nets into the lake, which is scheduled for today.
Hendrickson isn’t optimistic.
“Just by judging from all the carp and bullheads that are dead along the shore, when they’re dead like that it tells me that more or less everything got killed,” Hendrickson said.
Snow cover on the lake prevented light from penetrating the ice, which slowed photosynthesis in the underwater plant life and led to a lack of oxygen in the water for the fish to process.
Hendrickson said as the winter progressed, there was less and less oxygen until there was little to none available and the fish, in essence, suffocated.
The oxygen level at Patterson reached fatal levels this winter, however, until the nets come up, Game and Fish won’t know just how bad it is, Hendrickson said.
“It’s going to be a significant kill,” Hendrickson said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be total or not. ... That’s why we need to get nets out there.”