On Sunday, the first shoots of tulips, daffodils and St. Mary's grass popped in my wife's garden. Even the first shoots pushed through on the potted chive plant.
Those hopeful signs came around same time as the first reports of winter fish kills.
The first report I had of a winter kill came more than a week ago from McKinley Park lagoon. Then on Friday, Ken J. Nieminski of Palos Hills sent this:
``Even the sandhills over the Palos area, couldn't ease the melancholy that developed as I walked the shore of my favorite fishing pond, and counted no less that an even dozen dead large-mouth bass in the 3+ pound range. blue-gills and smaller bass were too numerous to count, and I only covered 1/3 of the shoreline. note to other anglers, if your favorite spot isn't more than 8ft. deep, you might need a new "favorite spot".''
As expected a quick check found calls starting about winter kills to fisheries biologists.
Rob Miller said he had already received something like six calls by Monday morning. The ice cleared off the lakes in most of his area in Will, Kankakee, Kendall and Grundy counties by Thursday.
``Winter kills are not always complete, but they can be,'' he said. ``It affects big fish first.''
That's why winter kills can be so upsetting and so visible.
Frank Jakubicek (Lake, Cook) said he and Vic Santucci (Kane, DuPage and McHenry) had received about the same number of calls so far.
Jakubicek said most of their calls have been about smaller lakes, but there is still ice covering some lakes across northern areas.
He said it could the winter kills could be have three causes: 1) temperature shock (from Sunday's warm rains); 2) low DO levels from the heavy ice covered a long time by heavy snow; or 3) super saturation, something i had not heard of, which is the water runoff actually putting too much oxygen into the system for the fish to handle.
More to come over the next few days.