As an arctic blast continues to move across the state, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries warns the public 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. Contact information, along with requested reporting specifics, is available here: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/fish-kills

Be prepared to provide your name, phone number (in case additional information is needed), along with the location, including good directions to the fish kill site, the approximate quantity and species of fish, and their condition (still dying, all dead, decomposing, etc.).

People should also be aware that legal creel and size limits are in effect, and the harvest of fish beyond those limits is illegal.

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