Dissolved oxygen levels affecting trout

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.

Trout fishing on Taneycomo Lake near Branson, Mo.
Trout fishing on Taneycomo Lake near Branson, Mo.

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.

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