Thousands Of Shad Dead On Lake Elsinore

The state Department of Fish and Game has confirmed that thousands of Threadfin Shad are floating lifeless on the south side of Lake Elsinore.

Updated at 4 p.m.

Interim City Manager Pat Kilroy told Patch that the last time the lake had a fish kill, it was in 2008 or 2009, during an extremely hot, windless summer.

The subsequent oxygen dissolution led to the deaths of different species of fish.

In the case of the shad, said Kilroy, the cause of the deaths are probably either oxygen deprivation or a release of gases when the rainstorm earlier this week caused the barometric pressure to fall.

The gases could have been carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, he said.

"Shad are sensitive," said Kilroy, and tend to be the first species hit when changes occur in the lake.

“It has something to do with their biology,” Kilroy told Patch.


The state Department of Fish and Game confirmed Friday that there is a massive fish kill in Lake Elsinore, numbering the dead Threadfin Shad in the "thousands."

"They’re floating in the river ... the biologists are on their way," said Andrew Hughan, information officer for the department.

The usual reason for a die-off is a lack of oxygen, which causes fish to drown, he said.

Preliminary reports indicate a dissolved oxygen issue, sometimes caused by an algae bloom and sometimes by a spike in water temperature, Hughan said

"This is not an unprecedented event," in lakes, Hughan said, but he could not say whether it has happened before in Lake Elsinore.

B dubb April 27, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I just walked along the north eastern side of the lake and it's even worse. There are thousands of carp and shad that have washed up along the shore
Roberto April 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Quick, get a picture of Pat Kilroy drinking the lake water to assure the public it's safe.
B dubb April 27, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Sorry cant do that. I have a pic of him taking a leak in the lake tho
Mirna Alfonso (Editor) April 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM
hey guys, can we get someone to take a pic and upload it?
BLUESGUITAR777 April 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM
I'll walk down there shortly and take some pics. I live right by there.
Mirna Alfonso (Editor) April 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM
AWESOME thanks. then I will put in the top spot.
BLUESGUITAR777 April 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Mirna- I emailed them to you directly. My iPhone won't let me use the Upload button... lol
Elizabeth Dana April 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
The water quality is good. The lakes depth is not very dip, which can cause low oxygen levels. It's good news to hear that the carp are killing off, let's just hope the bass are safe. Since we haven't had any high temperature heats recently, I wonder if this is a result of the lightning & thunder storms we had this week; which were both pretty powerful.
BLUESGUITAR777 April 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I walked down there and didn't see much. I live off Grand just a couple streets past the abandoned boys military school. I walked the shore about three blocks in each direction and saw a couple hundred shad scattered about the shoreline. No carp or bass or anything. I didn't see any dead fish floating in the water either. Perhaps the birds have already cleaned house or I'm just in the wrong area. Like the other user said below hopefully this won't effect the bass the city just stocked the lake with.
Tonto April 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Looks like somebody forgot to tell the fish how great the water quality is :)
Diana April 28, 2012 at 01:01 AM
They need to turn on the ariators!!!!!!!!!! They always wait until the Lake is green before they power them up, I know I used to live on the Lake.
Brad April 28, 2012 at 03:19 AM
I biked around almost the whole lake, and didn't see any sign "thousands of dead fish". I found a few here and there, as well as some in clusters. I personally didn't see "thousands".
Ken Mayes April 28, 2012 at 06:05 AM
There are two other possibilities not mentioned. One is the construction of the new launch facility and the other is the wetlands enhancement project, either one of these projects could have stirred up the mud in the bottom of the lake, who the h___ knows what kind of toxins are in it.
Mirna Alfonso (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 06:31 AM
well Pat Kilroy seems to think that is very likely
Mirna Alfonso (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 06:32 AM
Good point. I think we will know more once the plants are put in tomorrow and see if more fish die. Also, we can check with the Fish and Game people and see if they figured it out.
Pat Kilroy April 28, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Pat Kilroy This incident appears to be isolated and only affecting Threadfin Shad minnows. No other species of fish were observed. Prior to this event, the oxygen levels in the water column were good. Given no other fish species were affected and the limited scope, I would surmise the recent late winter storm caused a drop in the barometric pressure, which may have resulted in a sudden release of hyrdogen sulfide gas from a portion of the sediment. This can cause oxygen uptake problems for fish, despite relatively good dissolved oxygen levels. Shad are a very sensitive species and have the lowest tolerance. Lake Elsinore is often overpopulated with shad minnows. A good bait fishery to support a health sport fishery requires about 200 - 300 bait fish per acre. Lake Elsinore has often had 10,000 shad per acre. Excessive numbers of shad can be a detriment to water quality, as they feed on large bodied zooplankton. Large bodied zooplankton are a benefit to water quality, as they graze on single-celled algae. Seeking a balance in the fish population is a good thing. I'm glad to see a few shad removed; however, the best method is to bio-convert shad into a catchable sport fish for harvesting by anglers. In the scheme of things, this was an insignificant event.
Ken Mayes April 28, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Who to believe Mr. Kilroy who's job it is to spin any news about the lake in the best light possible "this was an insignificant event" or the State Department of Fish and Game "They’re floating in the river ... the biologists are on their way," said Andrew Hughan, information officer for the department. Guess we will have to wait for the biologist report with the scientific data if there is one and someone chooses to make it available to the public.
Dana Martinez April 28, 2012 at 06:12 PM
...here's an idea, runoff from the rains, have washed a significant amount of chemicals in the water that reacted with the lake water. Enough of them caused significant chemical changes in the lake. What went in to do that? It makes sense to say that an O2 comsuming algae bloom could starve out large schools fishy. Where I come from red tides can be entirely toxic to the species they are surrounding. Some dumb school of fish could run right into a globular algae bloom. You would have to check the lungs of the fish, and see whether algae overload killed them. By overload I mean that they simple just inhaled the algae. Otherwise you would have to see what is wrong with the water. It could of have been some other totally different chemical issue.
Dana Martinez April 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I like Kilroy's* idea too, there is a lot to stir up the bottom of the lake, and everything eventually makes it to the bottom anyways. Pressure switches can move all sorts of stuff. These last few days have been awesome to watch from I live. You can see the clouds looming over the Santa Anas. I can watch the front creeping up the hillside, and surely enough feel its wind. *Imagine some poor fish just chillin' at the bottom, and a giant plume of Lake Elsinore bottom crud suddenly rises a few feet. How far up does that plume go, and how quick?
Tonto April 29, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I think the fish will have the final word :)
Sarah Elman April 29, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Went to Elsinore today and went to the community park on the back side of the lake the entire shore line was covered in fish and boy did it smell like it omg stinky!!! There was hundreds
P.J. April 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Mr. Kilroy, no offense but at this point in the game don't you think to "surmise" what happenedis a bit on the weak side? We are just days away from opening a new launch marina and to have a lake that stinks of dead fish isn't going to make a great first impression. I think by now there is enough of information on how to keep a lake running in tip top shape is available to any city offical that wants it. If this turns out to be the results of mis-management, well you know what they did to our city manager for poor performance... If we were on top of the lake quality on a weekly basis, this should have been predicted and or prevented...We need answeres and results..not surmises.
Tonto April 30, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Maybe its a conspiracy by the fish? What will the tourists think?
Scott T May 09, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thank you Mr Kilroy for coming on here and trying to explain these things as best you can. He gave a good theory on why he thinks this has happened so don't go bashing him or he won't come back.
Kevin - Wildomar CA May 31, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Where's Martha Bridges when we need her? I'm sure she's got some nonsense to contribute.
Terry Stracke June 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I fish at Lake Skinner and no site of either LIVE or DEAD shad as of June 6th.Is it too early for them or have they all dies off????
Terry Stracke June 09, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Should have read sign instead of site and died instead of dies.


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