The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a news release regarding numerous white bass that were found dead at Big Creek Lake.
“We started getting calls to our office on Aug. 23 from people observing dead fish. We had someone go down and look. All were adults; there were no juveniles. So either a virus or form of bacteria is just targeting the adult white bass,” Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries technician Andy Otting said, “In addition, this virus or bacteria does not appear to affect other game fish species populations at all.”
However, according to Otting, the true impact this epidemic will have on the overall population of the adult white bass remains unknown. While the Iowa DNR has already received notifications of white bass recently caught at Big Creek Lake, only their surveys conducted in the fall and spring will tell how much damage was done and how quickly the population will recover.
“We have received first confirmation that there was still a good population [of the white bass] in the lake. Any caught white bass is still safe to eat. The virus or bacteria that made the fish sick is not transferable to people. Aug. 24 was the last day the fish were actually dying. And, when the fish get the virus, they die really quickly,” Otting said.
As far as why this particular strain of virus or bacteria would target the white bass population, the answer is still unknown. One possibility could be that this particular type of fish schools very tightly. Because of their close proximity to one another all the time, the pathogen could easily travel throughout their population rather quickly, while still not affecting other fish.
Whatever the reason for this occurrence, Iowa DNR fishery experts believe that since the juveniles were unaffected, the population of white bass will fully rebound in approximately two years or less.