Tips for reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species while ice fishing

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As many enjoy this mild January by ice fishing, there is a risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. For instance, plant fragments could get stuck on your equipment.

“If you just have a fragment stuck on your auger blade that might have been picked up when you punched a hole and moved to another lake, you do have the possibility of spreading that population from one body of water to another,” said Wisconsin DNR Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Alex Selle.

De-icing your equipment and letting it dry between various bodies of water is recommended.

“That can be hard to do if you’re bouncing from different lakes, a couple of small lakes in one day,” said Selle. “But generally, if it’s cold enough out that your auger is going to freeze up and you can kind of just chip off that ice and it’s kind of removing that aspect of it as well.”

One of the most important ways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is to dispose of your live bait. This should be done in a trash can generally. Releasing live bait down a fishing hole should be avoided.

“You really don’t want to be transferring water. So and or when you’re done fishing, you don’t want to be dumping out your minnows and such on the lake,” said Fisherman’s Corner Owner Matt King. “Take them home with you if you are going to keep them, and use bottled water or well water so you’re not spreading the water from the lake when you go back and fish the next time.”

If you come across an unfamiliar species that you think might be invasive, you can submit a photo to the Minnesota or Wisconsin DNR.

“We’d love to hear reports from citizens, and I’d rather look at 100 photos of native aquatic plants than have someone not send one photo of an invasive species,” said Selle.