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Matt Snider
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Sheldon Lake Fish Situation

Blog by: Matt Snider , CO 8/28/2023
Anyone planning to fish Sheldon Lake at City Park in Fort Collins, take note that it recently had a fish kill.  The die-off, to my untrained eye, did not appear to affect all fish in the small lake.  I walked around the lake last week and noticed most of the fish floating on the surface were gizzard shad.

The dead shad were both large adults and the juveniles that present a great food source for other gamefish.  In the mix were a fair number of crappie, but I lacked to find many other species - perhaps a small largemouth bass here and there, perhaps some sunfish.  The floating bodies were pale and bloated so identification was difficult.
I reached out to the biologist for the waterbody but have not heard back.  A couple of signs were placed at the lake with notice that the park operators were aware of the issue.  According to an article in the Coloradoan, officials initially blamed low dissolved oxygen levels (despite the numerous aerators present) and tests indicated that there were no abnormal chemicals detected in the water. Conditions were expected to get better once cooler weather and rain came through the area.

I did notice a handful of large carp tails swirling about above the surface, lazily swimming in slow large circles. Sheldon is a bit of a sleeper, with a variety of species and many of good size - especially for the lake's meager depths. Sources reference a max depth at 13 feet, but I've never measured anything over 8 feet.  Perhaps there is a small area that is deeper but the large percentage of the lake is pretty shallow.
Note that the photos here were taken after an apparent clean-up the day before so may not be representative of what appeared a day earlier.

I did not notice any catfish or trout floating. I'd have to argue those are the primary targets for the majority of folks taking to the shoreline on any given day in this popular park.  Let's hope there is a viable population of fish remaining, and that they have plenty of food to eat. 

Thank you FishDr for the prompt report about this posted last week to the Sheldon Lake page.
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