A few fish floating in a lake as large as Oconee may not raise interest. However, when that turns into 1,000-1,500 dead fish, offices at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division – Fisheries Section start to get some calls. Fortunately, the recent die-off of common carp seen currently at Oconee appears to be a natural occurrence.
“Common carp have been aggressively spawning at Lake Oconee over the last few weeks, resulting in additional energy consumption and stress, and weakening a fish’s immune system allowing bacterial or viral infections to more readily occur, often causing fish death,” says Chris Nelson, fisheries biologist at Lake Oconee. “Additionally, these spawning activities ensure that many carp are in constant contact with each other, allowing diseases to spread even more rapidly. Given that this die-off appears to affect this one species and water quality appears normal, we believe that this is a naturally occurring fish kill and of no alarm to anglers or lake visitors.”
Common carp are not native to the United States, but were introduced in the late 1800s as a food fish. They are commonly found throughout the southeast. They are slate to gold in color, with a dark spot at the base of the tail and have a sucker-like mouth with a barbell on each corner. They can weigh more than 50 pounds, but 5-25 pounds is more typical.
For more information on fishing in Georgia, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com/fishing . For more information on fishing on Lake Oconee, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com/fishing/opportunities and select “Georgia Reservoirs” and then “Lake Oconee.” For information on visiting or camping at Lake Oconee, visit www.georgiapower.com/in-your-community/lakes-and-recreation .