HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Over the last several weeks, fishermen and residents on the lower end of Old Hickory Lake have reported dead fish floating in the water and along the shoreline.

“I’ve been fishing out here at least twenty years,” exclaimed Paul Neighbours. “You see fish kills every year, but this year has been a dramatic change. It’s been totally different from what normally happens out here. You are seeing sometimes 20 to 30 fish out here that are either gasping for air or already dead.”

For the residents along Old Hickory Lake in places like Drakes Creek, it’s been a smelly mess.

Authorities have tested the water to see if they could find the cause.

“The TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Authority) TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we all did some testing of water quality, as far as dissolved oxygen,” explained Barry Cross, TWRA Region 2 Communications and Outreach Coordinator. “All that came back in good shape.”

When they arrived, the dead fish they found on the water surface were already decaying, indicating that the fish kill had happened several days before, and the fish were too decayed to take a tissue sample.

Unfortunately, whatever caused the fish kill had already either dissolved or dissipated in the water.

“The absence of any fish that are actively dying, fish on the surface that are still kind of kicking around and trying to swim, that takes away from us a hot spot – a place that we can actually test an area and see what’s in the water,” Cross explained.

Although there is no evidence that lawn herbicides or chemicals were the cause, the TWRA asks that people be careful when using them.

“If you are using some type of herbicide or some type of chemical on your lawn, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage so you are not overdoing what should be on the yard, because any type of run-off that gets into the water can be a problem for aquatic wildlife,” Cross pointed out.

The TWRA is also asking people to contact them immediately if they see large numbers of fish that are struggling or in the process of dying. You can call 615-781-6622 or 1-800-624-7406.