Hundreds of dead fish surface in Kings River fishing spot

Hundreds of dead fish are surfacing in a popular fishing spot in the Kings River.
January 29, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Hundreds of dead fish are surfacing in a popular fishing spot in the Kings River. The dead fish began showing up earlier this week. California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials think it may be something missing from the water.

Several clusters of dead, decomposing carp line a segment of the Kings River south of Stratford. The rotting fish are leaving a strong, disgusting odor in the air.

Tony Gonzalez and his nephew picked a different spot to fish Wednesday, after finding the fish kill. They say the area is very popular to catch fish year round.

The dead fish began getting attention after a video posted to YouTube. Chango Thao was stunned to see so many fish just floating on the surface of the water. He recorded the video to show his fishing buddies. "Oh, it was horrible," Thao said. "Just the stench of it, I couldn't stick around too long. Getting home I still smelled it in my nose, seriously."

Fish and Wildlife officials surveyed the area Wednesday evening. "What we think happened is the fish got concentrated in one area because of the low flows," Mike Conely said. "When you get this many fish in one small area the dissolved oxygen in the water becomes an issue. Basically the fish suffocate."

Conely says the fish were likely searching for an area with high water levels to live in, but warmer weather and minimal water flow forced them to the spot where they died.

While a natural death is the likely cause, state officials will rule out possible poisoning or pollution. "We're going to take some samples [Thursday] of the water and fish and we'll go from there," Conely said.

Regulars to this spot on Highway 41 and the Kings River hope it's not something dangerous in the water. "I hope I can return to that area to fish again," Thao said.

In an effort to rule out any health risks to the public, the Department of Fish and Wildlife says it will also be testing tissue samples from the dead fish.


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