Reports of large amount of dead fish raise questions at Geist Reservoir

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Anglers in Geist say they think something is poisoning fish in the reservoir.

Over the weekend, many anglers and boaters say they saw large amounts of dead fish washed up on Geist’s shores. Multiple people reported the fish showed signs that their deaths were due to “unnatural factors.” There were red sores and white puss-like spots on their bodies.

“These fish have lesions on them, sores on them, and they are not your typical fish that die off,” Justin Rutledge said.

Rutledge added that under normal circumstances, there is a yearly die-off of fish due to the change in weather. However, he says the fish he saw were the “bigger, higher end” species, including redears and bass, that normally survive the change.

“These are large fish, mature in age, and typically a very hearty fish that don’t typically die like this. My personal belief is that it is not a natural spring die-off,” he said.

Rutledge, along with other fishers,  say they believe that chemicals put in the water to kill algae and run-off from chemicals used to treat nearby lawns and fields may play a role in their deaths.

“This is not something that’s naturally occurring. This is something that is being created,” one man said.

DNR Investigators say they launched an investigation on Monday and collected samples of dead fish from the water. However, in a statement a spokesperson said they believe the die-off is naturally occurring.

The statement read in part: “Although fish are being tested and results will be available at a later date, this has all appearances of a small, natural die-off of some sunfish species, mostly large redear sunfish, due to a possible fungal or bacterial infection that often happens around this time of year when fish are already stressed from winter. The die-off is small in number and will have little impact on the overall fish population in the lake.”

Rutledge said he’d like to see the test results from the DNR investigation, and added that he’d like to see more, consistent testing from the state done on the reservoir, with the results being made public

“There needs to be some better regulation on it,” he said.

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