WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Some problem fish are living and growing in a lake in western Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Fisheries biologists have confirmed that there are gizzard shad in Scott State Fishing Lake.
People had mentioned seeing the fish. And in August, while fisheries biologists were doing exploratory electrofishing at the lake, they found 91 gizzard shad.
Electrofishing temporarily stuns fish. They float to the surface so biologists can see what kind of fish are in the water and take measurements.
The biologists say the gizzard shad averaged 5.7 inches long. Based on the size, fisheries staff believe most of the gizzard shad were hatched this year.
“Given the relatively high abundance and young age, it’s likely that most of the current population was produced in Scott State Fishing Lake and not the result of immigration or stocking,” Dave Spalsbury, KDWP district fisheries biologist, said in a news release. “Well, it wasn’t Department-led stocking, that is.”
He says the gizzard shad either came through natural immigration into the spring-fed lake during the high flow-through event in May 2021 or through unauthorized public stocking.
Spalsbury says fisheries staff are well aware that the species can be detrimental if left unchecked.
At first, small gizzard shad can serve as food for some sportfish. But as they get bigger and reproduce, they become too large for other fish to eat. Inevitability, this leads to multiple fish populations directly competing for food, and then sportfish won’t be able to grow as large.
KDWP fisheries staff are currently evaluating what can be done to mitigate the establishment of gizzard shad in Scott State Fishing Lake, with hopes of protecting the 115-acre lake from becoming overrun with the undesirable species.
Currently, Scott State Fishing Lake is home to channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, sunfish, saugeye and the occasional rainbow trout.