Poor Huron: Hundreds of dead and floundering fish can't be good for tourism

Images of area residents picking through piles of carp and other fine-looking breeds is not a good look.

Hundreds of dead fish are stacked along the rocks Monday at the 3rd Street Dam in Huron.
Sam Fosness / Republic

There's nothing like a weird animal story to bring attention to your community.

Huge parachuting spiders on the East Coast. Cottontail bunny invasions of Australia. Giant Burmese pythons run amok in Florida.

Stories of this nature are endless as humans deal with whatever latest aberration nature can produce.

Good news Huron! You're on the list.

As our colleagues at the Mitchell Republic reported this week, hundreds of dead fish are piling up at a low-head dam on the James River in Huron.


Nobody is sure why this is happening yet. Well, to be clear, nobody who was standing on the riverbank gawking at the piles of "carp, alligator gar and freshwater drum" is sure why it's happening. There's probably a biologist somewhere that has answer, we'll have to wait and see on that one.

The lack of expert analysis, however, does not preclude the value of random speculation.

A group of people sift through dead fish stacked along the rocks Monday at the 3rd Street Dam in Huron.
Sam Fosness / Republic

Kelly Wolf of Huron told the Republic's Sam Fosness that "he's never seen anything like it."

Not to let a lack of experience get in the way of a good theory Wolf said, “The majority of the fish coming up dead is mainly because of the lack of oxygen they have."

Seems like a strong contender.

A lot of the conversation in Huron appears to surround the rocks and boulders the city placed at the base of the dam in an effort to make it safer after someone drown several years ago.

Like biology, hydrology is often an area of expertise among the good people of South Dakota. That was clear from the F-bomb filled post on TikTok that was circulating from the site.

There's no way to pull a family-friendly quote from the video that @50gunner1984 posted with his commentary on the situation. And there's room for significant skepticism about his thesis. But its got nearly 150,000 views, more than 8,700 comments and 7,500 shares. Without going into too much detail, it's probably not something the South Dakota Department of Tourism is spreading around.


The state probably hasn't got this much attention on social media since that bison depantsed a woman at Custer State Park.

Poor Huron.

It doesn't help that area residents are showing up to dig through the dead fish to find the ones that are still flapping, or at least fresh, presumably to filet and fry. That's just not a good look for a community trying to rebuild it's workforce and image. They just got the State Fair back on its feet and now this.

To be fair to the fish pickers, there are apparently some walleye, catfish and northern pike in the piles. But still.

No word yet on how the mess is going to get cleaned up, but if you're a Huron city employee, you might want to think about putting in for some PTO.

Thoughts and prayers Huron.

Opinion by Patrick Lalley
Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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