Fish Kill Continues

By: Mike Mueller
By: Mike Mueller

Local anglers are in anguish over the continued threats of another fish kill.

For the past two years, fish are floating belly up with unknown lesions, and it's starting again in the South River of Grottoes. Reports of more than a dozen dead fish are coming in to the Department of Environmental Quality.

Officials are analyzing the water in the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah for traces of ammonia that may be one of the fish kill factors, targeting small mouth bass and sunfish.

While officials continue casting for answers, it's the local anglers falling hook, line and sinker. Finding fewer bites and having smaller tales to tell.

Gary Hottinger is an avid angler but his luck on the waters is starting to run dry.

"It seems to me that your not catching as many fish as you used to even on a boat," says Hottinger. "A lot of the good fishing areas just don't seem to be holding the fish or they're just not there."

That's because a mysterious fish kill in the valley continues plague the area.

"Going up from Harriston and all the way down to Port Republic it seems like there is a slow boil of fish mortality," says Ted Turner of the Department of Environmental Quality.

"I've noticed on a boat that a lot of them you catch have spots on them that aren't dead so you can't even consume any of them," adds Hottinger.

Or bank on business to pick back up during this prime time for fishing.

"There are guides that make this their living, only I don't know if there will be making it their living this year," says Turner.

"It's kind of frustrating when you buy a license and you catch a fish and you either throw them back or you don't go fishing," says Hottinger.

But a task force is fishing out the details, slowly but surely.

"Fish kills are going to be tougher to see," says Turner. "The difference is this year we have a lot more people looking so we are less likely to miss stuff that happens."

Due to the pattern over the last two years, the task force expects the fish kill to die down near the end of May.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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