Heat Killing Game Fish–Is Climate Change to Blame?

Record heat and severe drought have combined to kill fish, including sport fish, in numerous places across America. Hundreds of northern pike died in Michigan when water temperatures reached a piping hot 90 degrees. Mass die-offs of catfish, trout and other fish are reported in Kentucky streams. Minnesota’s numerous lakes are also experiencing major fish deaths. And these are just a few of the states reporting summer fish kills that are well above average.

(SportsmenVote poll: Is Climate Change Real?)

Summer fish kills are a normal event that results as water warms and dissolved oxygen levels decrease; however, this year’s kills are quite abnormally high. Lack of rain has reduced water levels, which makes it even easier for the record heat to bring lakes and streams to a veritable boil. This also results in the perfect conditions for a high algae bloom, further decreasing oxygen levels.

So, here’s the elephant in the room amid all this: Is this summer’s intense heat and lack of rainfall merely a blip, or is it a sign of a larger issue–climate change? If it is indeed climate change, then we’re getting a taste of what could be a terrible threat to the future of fishing in America.

Waterfowlers, too, have felt the effects of the oddly warm weather America has experienced for the last 12-15 months. Last season it was as if the ducks did not migrate at all in many parts of the country. And a Delta Waterfowl study indicates that ducks are, in fact, migrating consistently later than they have done so historically. The study did not suggest causation, however, it noted that climate change is a “plausible” explanation.

No doubt if we are experiencing the start of a long-term trend, it does not bode well for the future of fish, game or sportsmen. Interestingly, this issue has become highly polarizing, and views on it tend to differ based on political party affiliation. The realities (or lack thereof) of climate change were posed to candidates in the last presidential election, and it’s likely to be posed to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in their upcoming debates. Their answers on climate change could greatly affect how concerned sportsmen and conservationists cast their votes.

What do you think? Is climate change real?


4 Responses
  • As our scientists have told us over and over, we are experiencing anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. It’s obviously the single largest threat to fish & wildlife, and to sportsmen. If we don’t address it now, while there’s still time, we won’t have anyone but ourselves to blame when we lose the vast majority of our hunting & fishing to heat, drought and extreme weather.

  • BullMooseParty

    How much more proof do we need that climate change is very real and that us humans are making it worse. Hunters and anglers need to get involved in these issues and fast. Don’t listen to all the dumb numb-nut politicians. Look at the proof and look at the science. It’s loud and it’s clear.

  • There are a couple of excellent resources for sportsmen who want to learn more about climate change and its impact on our hunting and fishing. Conservation Hawks is one – check out – and Season’s End – – is another. Both groups focus on educating sportsmen about climate change.

  • What warmed the earth and melted the glaciers that covered most of the earth thousands of years ago? And how can it be proved the same thing isn’t happening again, a natural cycle? We certainly aren’t helping, but if we were causing it this bad, a total mammal die off would be on the brink.

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