Scores of dead fish are lining the St. John’s River near State Road 520 in western Brevard County and with it, a smelly situation.
What You Need To Know
- Dozens of dead fish have washed ashore along the St. John's River following Hurricane Ian
- Experts say flooding from Ian has cause a change in water quality
- They say the result causes fish to suffocate and die, resulting in smelly fish when they start to decompose
Dennis Bailey has been fishing the St John’s River all his life and says he’s hooked many a catch for dinner.
“Any day on the water beats working,” he said.
He said he's got his favorite nooks around Lake Poinsett, but like any good angler, he will never give up where his top spots are.
Bailey let Spectrum News tag along on a promise to keep his secret, but there’s something in the water right now that’s no secret: the smell of rancid dead fish.
“You should be able to smell the fish when we come around the corner,” Bailey said.
“There’s two, three, four there, one there, one there, big one up on the shore,” he said, pointing. “Another one right there, two or three right there.”
From largemouth bass, to gizzard shad, to bream. Water levels in the area are normally in the 3-foot range.
Ian’s journey through the area, though, has caused the St John’s River to swell to eight feet deep, and even up to 13 feet deep in places.
“Basically (the fish) just suffocate,” Bailey said.
Experts with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission say the fish are dying due to changes in water quality caused by Hurricane Ian's heavy rains — which likely caused low amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water.
“I did see several catfish across the bridge, and they were sucking air, coming up sucking air,” Bailey said.
Officials with the Florida Department of Health say it is not safe to eat, collect or fish in areas where dead fish are found, and any fish kills should be reported to the FWC at 1-800-636-0511.