FRANKLINVILLE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has determined the cause of the deaths of a number of trout in Ischua Creek earlier this month as a fungal infection brought on by stress.
“It’s called water mold, a naturally-occurring fungus,” Scott Cornett, a state Department of Environmental Conservation aquatic biologist, said Wednesday.
Abnormally high water temperatures for this time of the year may also have contributed to the fish kill, Cornett said.
“We are not getting reports of huge numbers” of dead fish.
The breeder trout from the Randolph Fish Hatchery were among about 2,300 stocked in area lakes and Ischua Creek between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7.
“We started getting reports of dead fish in Ischua Creek on Oct. 4,” Cornett said.
The lakes included Quaker and Red House lakes in Allegany State Park, Case Lake, New Albion Lake and Allen Lake.
The DEC generally stocks breeder trout and other surplus trout at the hatchery in the fall. This fall, temperatures are higher due to the extended warm weather.
Cornett said while he had no definite numbers, the fish ranged from 14-28 inches and are very visible. He does not believe all of the breeder trout died.
“That would be highly unusual,” he said. “Normally we lose a few.”
He said the water mold should not impact fish that were already in the stream who will not begin breeding until next month and are not as stressed as the breeder trout from the hatchery which are manipulated to produce eggs earlier.
Hatchery fish are often treated to prevent the fungal infection, but the protection could wane in stocked fish over time with the stresses of having eggs stripped from them and warmer water temperatures.
It should not impact fish that were in the creeks and lakes before the breeder trout were stocked, Cornett said. The infection is secondary to fish that are already stressed
There are indications that the Ischua Creek waters were warmer than normal at this time of year and that some of the trout may have been susceptible to a naturally occurring fungal infection.
Reports of dead fish have been limited to Ischua Creek and a few at Case Lake in Franklinville. DEC fisheries staff are continuing to closely monitor the situation.