Last week's bitter-cold snap left more in its wake than frozen pipes and busted radiators. In the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, dead trout that succumbed to the freezing temperatures have begun floating to the surface.

"I'd be stupid not to be concerned," said Harry Blanchet, finfish biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He added that most of the fish in the kills appear to be white trout, but there are also some specks in the mix.

Most of the kills Blanchet has heard about have been isolated to Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, but Louisiana Sportsman has received one other credible report from an oysterman in Black Bay who is pulling up dead specks in his dredge.

Blanchet has also heard about isolated kills in dead-end canals in Plaquemines Parish.

"What happens typically in an old canal is a sill will develop near the entrance of the canal," he explained, "so the water at the head of the canal is deeper. The fish will stack up in the deep water, and once the front blows through and the water starts dropping, they're not going to swim out of the 8-foot water in the head over the 3-foot water at the sill to get out of the canal.

"They get trapped, and they die because of the extreme cold."

Even fish that survive the initial blast of cold may die in the days and weeks to come because of their increased vulnerability to fungal infections and parasites, Blanchet said.

"After the 1989 freeze, we saw fish well into the next summer - particularly red drum - that had patches where they had regenerated scales following sloughing off the old scales because of fungal infections," he said. "It just adds a measure of stress to the fish."

Still, Blanchet doesn't think this kill will be anything like the one that occured in '89.

"Immediately after that freeze, we had people cruising bayous and bays picking up tubs of dead fish," he said. "What we're seeing now isn't anything like that. We didn't have the level of frozen water this time that we had in '89."

Blanchet is asking anglers who run across fish kills to report them to the department's regional offices. Those numbers are available at the following
link: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/reportfishkill.