Fish die-off confirmed at Wildhorse Reservoir

Fish die-off confirmed at Wildhorse Reservoir
Wildhorse Reservoir. Image: Nevada State Parks

Elko — The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) got reports last week of numerous dead fish at Wildhorse Reservoir north of Elko. After checking the location, NDOW biologists verified a die-off had occurred, impacting yellow perch, catfish and trout.

The lake was frozen but rising temperatures led to a rapid loss of ice. Reduced oxygen levels in lakes can also happen while water is frozen.

This may have been taking place under the ice, prompting the die-off, which was most likely worsened by a huge population of yellow perch and low water levels, NDOW officials said.

“A fish die-off is a common, naturally occurring process. In this case, it could alleviate the impact of low reservoir levels on other fish species and give them more space to grow,” said NDOW Biologist CJ Ellingwood. “Since the reservoir was overpopulated with yellow perch, this die-off is not expected to hurt the health of the overall fishery. 

“It may actually help Wildhorse in the long run as low water conditions are expected with ongoing drought conditions.”

NDOW officials said they will continue to monitor the situation.