Heat wave kills fish, hurts businesses

High water temperatures kill some fish

The heat wave has been taking a toll on agriculture, but it’s also killing area fish and putting a financial strain on fish breeders.

Dave Gollon, of Gollon Bait and Fish Farm in Dodgeville, raises many species of fish, and he said the high temperatures are creating dangerous conditions for his fish.

“We raise just about every species in Wisconsin except sturgeon and trout salmon,” Gollon said. “And right here, with no water running, we’re talking 93-degree water temperature. That’s definitely at the toxic level.”

Thousands of the Gollon family’s fish are swimming in temperatures dangerous enough to kill them.

“Anybody that fishes, if you fish Lake Delton, if you fish Beaver Dam, the Rock River, up north where we stock walleyes, all the fish originated from (these ponds),” Gollon said. “This is the broodstock. This is where all the breeders come from.”

And the recent drought conditions have lowered the water table, slowing nature’s faucet down to a babble.

“This thing should be gushing water,” Gollon said. “There’s probably 30 percent of the normal flow.”

It has prompted the farm to invest in new tools: Wells, oxygen tanks and aerators, with a $100,000 price tag, are needed just to stay afloat.

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“There ain’t going to be no profit this year,” Gollon said.

Gollon said keeping his business running in conditions like these won’t be an easy task.

“People think if we get rain tomorrow, the drought’s over,” Gollon said. “The drought ain’t going to be over in some cases for five years, if it ever recovers.”

Even if things do turn around with cooler temperatures and rain, the farm still expects to lose at least a quarter of its business this year.  

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