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And the saga continues. Just as Louisiana was beginning to see record numbers of people enjoying the Gulf Coast and our lakes and bayous due to the pandemic, along came a spider called a Polar Vortex.

With this arctic blast, we've seen frozen roadways, burst water pipes, loss of electricity and water, and now it looks as though this crippling winter event could have a lasting effect on our fish population.

We get word from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries of potential fish kills throughout coastal Louisiana due to freezing water temperatures.

It is still too early to determine if the cold temperatures will have any impact on fish populations, however. If fish kills do occur, the fish could be on the bottom of water bodies and may not be visible for a week or more.

Coastal species commonly impacted by low water temperatures are sand seatrout, (a.k.a. white trout), red drum, black drum, and spotted seatrout.

“Typically, water temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for any more than a day cause problems for spotted seatrout, whereas red drum are slightly more tolerant and will begin to experience problems in the mid-30s,” explained LDWF fisheries biologist Jason Adriance. “The rate at which the water cools is also important. If fish have a chance to acclimate and move, the potential for survival is higher.”

More definitive estimates of the freeze effects on fish population sizes and distribution within the coastal areas will be available as information is collected through the department’s fishery-independent monitoring programs.

Inland fisheries biologists are not expecting serious impacts to freshwater gamefish. There is the potential for small isolated die-offs of shad due to the colder than normal water temperatures, but this should not pose a significant impact to sport fishermen.

Should you come across significant numbers of dead or dying fish, LDWF encourages you to contact the department.

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