Gasper River is a beautiful waterway that generations of outdoorsmen have used for recreation such as fishing, canoeing, sightseeing and camping.
The river, which begins in Logan County and ends in Warren County where it drains into Barren River, is full of an array of fish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, Kentucky bass, rock bass, bluegill, catfish, drum and feeder fish like darters and minnows. Every once in a while, there are stories of sauger and muskie being caught in it.
Gasper is known for its beautiful surroundings of bluffs, majestic trees lining the river, gravel bars and deep rocky pools that – if hit at the right time of day and year – can be excellent fishing.
A large fish kill that occurred over Memorial Day weekend in this river was nothing short of an environmental disaster.
On Tuesday, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources biologists waded through the Gasper River, where – along with other state agencies – they have been examining a near-total fish kill in the river. There were at least several hundred dead fish in a 50-square-yard area and thousands of dead aquatic creatures in the river near Jackson Bridge Road and Hammett Hill Road.
While officials know a low dissolved oxygen concentration caused the kill, they aren’t certain what caused the oxygen level to fall. Reports indicate that all aquatic creatures in the river that depended on water for oxygen were basically dead.
This is very sad news, to say the least, because as we previously stated, the fish in that river are one of the reasons that people go there. Now, a large percentage of them are dead and there is no way to know how long it will take for the population to come back.
We can’t bring the dead fish back, which is very unfortunate, but state officials can hopefully find the source of what caused the oxygen levels to drop this low that caused this near-total fish kill and take the appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again.
At this point we don’t know with certainty where the contamination came from, but we do know the Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to make it a high priority to identify the source of the contamination. Restitution to restore the fisheries would be required if, in fact, fish and wildlife officials determine that the proper steps weren’t taken by those responsible to ensure that contamination wouldn’t enter Gasper River.
A focus also should be on securing the point of contamination so that no more fish and aquatic creatures in Gasper River die, and at the appropriate time restocking the Gasper so current and future generations can enjoy the great fishing that this river offered so many of us before this unfortunate near-total fish kill occurred.