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Old 11-17-2015, 02:30 PM   #1
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50K Plus Trout Kill At Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson?

Inside raceways, normally contain fry and the smaller trout that will later be released into the outside raceways, are bare.

Rumors of a massive fish kill at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery surfaced the afternoon of November 16. This morning I went to the hatchery to verify the rumor. As I drove up to the hatchery building I observed people apparently removing fish from the outside raceways closest to the hatchery.

The photo tells the story of what was found when I went inside the hatchery. All the inside raceways that I could observe, which normally contain fry and the smaller trout that will later be released into the outside raceways, were bare.

There were no personnel in the hatchery offices. One person came out of raceway portion of the building. I told him I was there to get information on an alleged 70k fish kill at the hatchery and asked if it was true. He pointed out was not a spokesperson for the hatchery; “there was a spike in Nitrogen;” many fish died, but he did not know the exact number; and that hatchery personnel were outside trying to move fish from the raceways closest to the building. He pointed out that the filters the water encountered as it moved through the hatchery raceways improved the water quality of the water in the raceways farthest from hatchery building itself.

At that time two people came in from the outside and the person I was talking with said that they were the guys to talk with. They did not identify themselves, one of them said that it was a bad time to talk and when I mentioned nitrogen as the cause of the fish kill, one mentioned “and sulphur,” as they turned and walked from the building.

Although the details from the hatcheryare skimpy at this point, it’s not for lack of trying, and two things appear certain: the normal operations of the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery has taken a dramatic hit and there has been one huge fish kill at the hatchery.

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Old 11-17-2015, 03:20 PM   #2
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A little more information can be found on this thread from Ozarkanglers.com
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:38 PM   #3
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Update on the fish kill

Rapid response by MDC statewide hatchery staff is mitigating damageNatural factors causing trout die-off at Shepherd of the Hills
Rapid response by MDC statewide hatchery staff mitigating loss.
BRANSON, Mo. – An unfortunate combination of late-autumn water conditions has caused a die-off of trout at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery.
This fish loss is a result of a combination of current environmental conditions that include warm water, low oxygen, high nitrogen, high sulfur levels and excess nutrient content. Hatchery staff will not know the full impact of trout loss for some time as some fish may experience delayed mortality from the stress they experienced at this time. Mortality has occurred in all sizes of fish at the hatchery. Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, located in Taney County, is Missouri’s largest trout hatchery. It produces 1,250,000 trout annually which are stocked into Lake Taneycomo and other trout areas around the state.
Much of the above-mentioned environmental conditions can be traced to the heavy rains, hot temperatures and algae die-off that depleted water quality and caused fish die-off problems at Table Rock Lake this past summer. Shepherd of the Hills receives its water from Table Rock.
Fortunately, quick action by MDC hatchery staff is resulting in the bulk of Shepherd’s trout population being saved. Some are being moved to other raceways at the hatchery where the water quality is better; other trout are being temporarily transported to Bennett Spring Hatchery, Montauk Hatchery and Lost Valley Hatchery.
The primary cure to Shepherd’s problems will occur when cold weather arrives.
“The faster it gets colder, the sooner the water temperature at the surface (of Table Rock) will equal the water temperature at the bottom (of the lake) and allow the lake to mix,” said MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush, who oversees fish management at Table Rock and Taneycomo reservoirs. “This will bring better water quality through the dam. This may happen as soon as this weekend with cold temperatures expected.”
The hatchery’s Conservation Center remains open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but trout viewing opportunities along the raceway have been temporarily closed to the public.
More information can be obtained by calling the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Conservation Center, 417-334-4865 or the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield, 417-895-6880.
A combination of natural factors has led to a trout die-off at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Taney County. Some of the fish are being temporarily transferred to other hatcheries in the state until water conditions at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery improve.
Francis Skalicky
Media Specialist
417-895-6881 x1641

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Old 11-20-2015, 11:38 AM   #4
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Low dissolved oxygen levels affecting trout at Taneycomo

Low dissolved oxygen levels affecting trout at Taneycomo

Anglers can help alleviate problem by minimizing time they take to catch and release fish.

BRANSON, Mo. – Trout problems at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery have grabbed recent headlines, but water-quality issues similar to what’s occurring at the hatchery are having impacts on Lake Taneycomo, too

Anglers and other visitors to this popular southwest Missouri reservoir were noticing dead trout and, in some cases, foul odors on the upper end of the lake for several weeks, even before conditions at the hatchery became dire. The main reason for Taneycomo’s issues is low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water. The root cause of these DO problems can be traced to summer rains that caused sudden inflows into Table Rock Lake – the primary source of Taneycomo’s water. Cooler temperatures should fix the situation. In the meantime, people who fish Taneycomo can help reduce this problem by minimizing the time they take to reel in and release fish.

Anglers can help reduce trout mortality by giving special attention to how they handle trout they catch. Land trout as quick as possible. Extended fights stress fish at any time of year, but can be lethal during times of low DO. Also, minimize the time spent netting and unhooking the fish. Finally, when the fish is unhooked, gently hold it under water until it gains equilibrium and can swim off on its own.

Anglers wishing to report dead fish on Taneycomo can call Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, 417-334-4859 or they can call MDC’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield at 417-895-6880.

Blaming summer rains at Table Rock for dead trout in November at Taneycomo may seem like a stretch, but it provides insight into the annual water cycle at both reservoirs and also shows how the two lakes are connected.

Cold water released into Taneycomo from the depths of Table Rock allows trout to thrive in the upper end of Taneycomo during most of the year. However, beginning around mid-July each year, the cold water coming into Taneycomo from Table Rock routinely has diminished DO levels due to annual biological processes known as stratification that occur over the summer in Table Rock. This summer, the dissolved oxygen levels in in the deeper water of Table Rock were further reduced by a combination of the decomposition of nutrients that were flushed into Table Rock heavy rains in the area and high levels of water generation through Table Rock dam that depleted the oxygenated water in the lake much faster.

This low-DO water is transferred to Taneycomo through flood-control Table Rock Dam and, unlike the water flowing into Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, cannot be injected with liquid oxygen if power generation is not occurring. Therefore, DO levels drop to near zero during times of non-generation and trout in Taneycomo begin to be impacted negatively. The lack of DO, combined with high amounts of nutrients in the water, is also the culprit for the foul odor some Taneycomo anglers have reported smelling. It should be noted some autumn trout mortality occurs at Taneycomo each year as a result of this process, but the high amounts of rain and water generation at Table Rock through the summer has exacerbated the situation this year.

As temperatures become colder; the upper oxygenated layer of water in Table Rock will cool, become denser, and sink. Once surface water temperature reaches the same temperature as on the bottom, Table Rock Lake will turn over, resulting in a more even distribution of dissolved oxygen throughout all layers of the lake. The release of this water into Taneycomo will help solve that reservoir’s problems.

In Missouri, from both a participant and economic perspective, trout fishing is significant. According to a 2011 survey (the most recent data available), trout fishing has more than 277,000 participants in Missouri who spend 1.4 million days fishing each year. This trout fishing activity in the state generates retail sales of $104 million and has an annual economic impact of $187 million. Trout fishing also supports more than 2,300 jobs.

Overall, fishing (all types) in Missouri generates about $677 million in retail sales and has an overall impact of approximately $1.2 billion annually.

More information about trout and about other fishing opportunities in the state can be found at www.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.
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Old 11-22-2015, 12:08 AM   #5
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Things are getting better.
Same generation and flood gates today. Very cold and windy so tough fishing conditions but there were a few boats out.

Same generation and flood gates today. Very cold and windy so tough fishing conditions but there were a few boats out.

Dissolved oxygen levels remain very good, especially down away from the dam as the water mixes. The water coming out of the turbines is still quite low in O2 but the water coming over the top is rich in oxygen. The sulphur smell as all but gone away. Color of the water in the lake is green and fairly clear. Hasn't looked this good in a couple of months.

MDC has continued to stock rainbows in the Branson Landing area. We have been sending people down that way for a couple of weeks to find fish and they've done very well. Freshly stocked rainbows tend to chase things so I'd throw a spinner, spoon or a small crank bait. This also works well because of the windy conditions. Trolling would be good too.

I couldn't get a reading of the water coming from Table Rock in to the hatchery today... the hatchery manager, Clint Hale, got married today so they were down to a skeleton crew.

I did want to mention that before they started running the flood gates we were warning anglers that if they were catching trout and releasing them to take special care of them because of the water quality being so bad. The rainbows I caught yesterday up close to the dam showed a lot of strength and stamina, evidence that at least while the gates are open, our trout are in very good shape. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take good care of a fish you're intending to release. But it does mean that, for now, our fish are very capable of handling a good fight--and keep on going!
Plus the MDC reports that the number of fish lost were much less than the first rumors indicated.
With continued colder temperatures, wind, and flow from the flood gates, the conditions for healthy trout in Taneycomo, and the hatchery will improve even more.
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