Dick and Nancy Reeves of Kirkwood were ready to see the budding trees and blue heron at Simpson Park Lake during their regular walk there on Wednesday morning.
They weren’t prepared for the sight of dead fish lining the western side of the lake.
In all, several dozen silver fish, many about 10 inches long, could be seen floating along the western edge of the lake. Some had been washed ashore at a boat ramp on the northwest corner along with foam cups, plastic bottles and other trash.
The Reeves, who have walked the paved trail at the St. Louis County park for years, were disturbed by the sight.
But an official from the St. Louis County Parks Department said such fish kills aren’t so unusual this time of year.
Jim Gerken of the Parks Department said similar die-offs are reported at area lakes in the spring and attributed to “winter kill” or “spring kill,” seasonal fish loss episodes where fish become stressed by low oxygen levels.
Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the dead fish appeared to be big head carp. He likewise said it was not unusual to see reports of fish turning up dead in the spring because of disease or an inversion or “turnover” of lakes that happens this time of year that stresses fish populations.