DNR investigating large fish kill in Whitewater River - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

DNR investigating large fish kill in Whitewater River

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ALTURA, Minn. (KTTC) – On a typical summer weekend, it's a popular fishing spot, but Friday, the south branch of the Whitewater River is the source of a fish-kill mystery. The DNR took samples up to the Twin Cities Friday morning, hoping to find out what caused it.

"Dead fish. Lots of them,” said Lloyd Kreidermacher on the banks of the trout stream that runs through his Altura farm. His land has become a graveyard for thousands of fish that once drew anglers here.

"Oh, we've never had something like this happen before,” he said.

In a two mile stretch along the upper part of the stream, the bodies of hundreds, possibly thousands, of trout and suckers are everywhere. Things went belly-up sometime Tuesday after more than an inch of rain fell in just a few hours.

A fisherman reported the kill Thursday morning.

"There's one right there, caught in the weed there a little bit. But look over across there how many there are dead,” said Kreidermacher, pointing at one section of the stream, many fish stuck in weeds on the banks.

"In that section of stream, we believe it took out everybody. Including the crayfish, including probably the insects, everything. But that's only a small section of the whole stream,” said Ron Benjamin of the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has ruled out disease and is focusing on possible runoff or a chemical spray. Whatever it was appears to have dissipated near the Crystal Springs fish hatchery.

"While it may be toxic in a stream that's this wide, once it becomes five times this wide, it may not be near as toxic,” said Benjamin.

He says results from the tests could be available early next week. In the meantime, Kreidermacher says he's going with the flow, but wondering what upstream left him with a smelly mess.

The DNR says whatever contaminant potentially swept its way through this stream appears to be gone - and there should not be any reservations about fishing in that area, but there's really not much left to catch anyway.

They DNR will be restocking slowly in the next few weeks. They say there are roughly 3 to 5 fish kills in Southeast Minnesota every year.

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