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Panfish color related to low oxygen levels?


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I was out yesterday afternoon fishing a small lake just north of here. The lake is middle of the road as far as water clarity and doesn't get deeper than 25'. I was catching crappies and gill in about 16' of water and they were very light colored. Last year I caught them in the same area and they were considerably darker. I'm thinking maybe the oxygen level is getting a little low and that affects the color? Any thoughts or ideas? Also there were little black bugs, like a speck of chewing tobacco coming up from the hole, any idea what these were?


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I think fish will pale when the ice gets some haze to it and snow/slush-cover get to be an issue. All of these factors will limit the amount of light getting down to the fish, even if they are right under the ice.

Another thing that may be taking place: We are in the dead of winter and the fish have lost all of the breeding colors by now. Bright, vibrant colors displayed at breeding time is a hallmark, especially in the panfish world. As soon as the water is free of ice, we'll see an almost immediate brightening to these fish and it will get more vivid as we approach actual spawning temperatures. The lack of color now might be closer related to water temperature, which is at it's lowest right now.

It may also have something to do with foods being eaten at the present time. Larger insects generally equate to more colorful insects. Some of this naturally ingested color may be missing from their diets right now and showing up as paler fish.

Oxygen depravation may play a part in this color shift. I have never heard of it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't occur. I don't recall seeing this question ever being tossed around before. Anyone else got some ideas? This is a good poser....probably going to get me reading again on this one. lol

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Yes, it is possible that the lake is getting low on oxygen considering the amount of snow you guys have on the lakes up there and the depth of the lake you mentioned. minnows will get pale colored when the oxygen gets real low (used to be in bait buis) also bugs ( especially back swimmers) and frogs are usually the first things to react when the oxygen starts to drop. Another thing is how far down in the water column were the fish biting at ,if they are on the bottom few feet yet oxygen is proably ok ,if they are up in the top half with the other things you mentioned there is a good chance the oxygen levels have dropped from what I have seen though the oxygen usually has to be pretty low for this to happen. It could be some of the things Tom mentioned,lots of variables.

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