It looks like the zombie epidemic from ‘The Walking Dead’ series doesn’t start out in L.A., rather our northwoods lakes with a parasite that’s liquefying muscle tissue in fish.
Imagine hooking into a nice 20″ walleye that slips suspiciously easily in to the boat. No fighting to stay deep. No head shakes. Just a weak and helpless surrender as you lift its limp and sagging body out of the water.
See what we know about the disease and its impact on fishing in this video from the Twin Cities’ KARE 11.
Heterosporis is the culprit…though researchers are still working to develop management techniques to mitigate its spread. The parasite is known to impact 15 fish species that include walleye, perch, rock bass, and northern pike.
Infected fish are easily identifiable since most are severely deformed from the liquefying of their muscle tissue.
Minnesota has 26 lakes where cases have been documented with heterosporis and Wisconsin has 16. Anglers are asked to report cases to their local Department of Natural Resource agents.
To help stop the disease from spreading, infected fish should be buried and all fishing gear and livewells should be thoroughly dried out, as the spores are relatively hardy but do not tolerate drying out.