Dead Fish on Lake Camelot

Information about Columnaris and fish die-offs from Columnaris provided by DNR Fish Biologist Jennifer Bergman.

  • Columnaris is a common and widespread bacterial disease of freshwater fish caused by the bacteria Flavobacterium columnare, which can cause yellow-brown or white lesions on the skin, fins and gills of fish.
  • Columnaris outbreaks are a normal occurrence, especially in late spring and early summer when the water is warming up.
  • Outbreaks and the intensity of outbreaks varies from year to year depending on the timing and intensity of the spring warm-up.
  • Fish species that we have seen die from Columnaris in Adams County waters include bluegills, pumpkinseeds, crappies, bass, catfish and bullheads.
  • Die-offs are selective and don’t wipe out populations, these fish kills are typically not significant.
  • The columnaris bacteria does not infect humans or other animals.
  • Since all wild fish can harbor other bacteria and parasites harmful to humans, anglers are always encouraged to thoroughly cook their catch, never consume fish you find dead or dying, and follow the Center for Disease Control’s food safety guidelines.
  • Lake Camelot, Lake Arrowhead, and Jordan Lake all had reported dead fish within the same week.  These dead fish were reported after the hot weather we had with a quick warm-up.  Bacteria bloom + aggregated fish stressed from spawning = Columnaris outbreak and fish kill.
  • Looking at the past fish kills for Lake Camelot, a fish kill was reported on June 12, 2017 and May 31, 2018; both of those events were from Columnaris. Similar timing with this year’s reported dead bluegill.’

More information provided by DNR rep Scott Provost about the fish die-offs on Lake Camelot.

  • The alum treatment occurred on Sherwood.  There’s no way that could have an impact on Camelot.
  • Its doubtful if the alum treatment cause any mortality to fish in Sherwood or downstream Arrowhead.  The pH was monitored during application and there was only minor variation, which would not cause a pH shock to fish.
  • Columnaris is a common bacteria in Wisconsin lakes, that can affect spawning sunfish, perch and bullheads.
  • Speedy warm ups in water temp that coincides with spawning season, can create good conditions for Columnaris impacts.