- Associated Press - Monday, February 26, 2018

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - The late-winter thawing of an eastern Iowa marina has left anglers and birds with a smelly surprise: thousands of tiny dead shad.

Fish in Burlington’s Bluff Harbor Marina slowly ran out of oxygen during two months of freezing temperatures and ice build-up. Harbormaster Jon Billups told the Hawk Eye that using bubblers to churn air and oxygen into the marina and keep ice down didn’t help this winter.

“We’ve had winters where there weren’t any fish killed because there wasn’t enough ice to matter,” said Billups. “But this time it was so long. We had over two months of solid ice down here. It’s a shame, but it’s nature.”

The ice thawing exposes the silvery fish, not much bigger than minnows, frozen where they were swimming. Ice fishermen reported that the ice was about a foot (0.3 meter) thick in some areas.

“It’s kind of unique because you would not think there were many fish in this little body of water, but there are,” Billups said.

Pelicans, gulls and eagles have already begun to make meals out of the dead fish.

Billups said fishermen are invited to collect the shad to use as bait. He said fishermen should ask permission within the marina building to fish from the shore. Fishing from the docks or around customer boats isn’t permitted.

The shad will likely flow into the Mississippi River as currents return to the marina.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

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