Check and clean ice fishing gear to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species
With a high of just 8 degrees forecast for Sunday and temperatures dropping below zero overnight, the ice is starting to thicken on the Northwoods Lakes.
As many fishermen prepare for another ice fishing season, conservationists are reminding people to do their part to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Derek Thorn is the FLOW AIS coordinator for Lumberjack RC&D serving Forest, Langlade and Oconto counties. He says that while many plants also sleep underwater, you can still drag invasive species like Eurasian Watermilfoil and Curly-leaved Pondweed onto your fishing line or auger.
“You also have a few snails which can be transferred to the mud during the winter. If a lake has them, the thorny water fleas can also persist in the mud as larvae in winter, ”Thorn said.
Invasive species can be critical to an environment.
“Some of the problems with invasive species are just that they compete with native species. They can compete with native species primarily for space and nutrients. Invasive species don’t have a lot of competition, so they’re able to thrive and take over environments very quickly, ”Thorn said.
The good news is that it’s pretty straightforward to prevent the spread of these invasive species.
The most important thing is to clean your equipment before moving on to another lake or even another section of the same lake.
Thorn recommends keeping a rag and cleaning product on hand to wipe things down. He says it can also help your equipment last longer.
“There are people who are going to deep clean by sanitizing all of their equipment with a bleach solution and they do that too,” Thorn said. “Not only are you not moving invasive agents, but you also keep your equipment in good repair, so things don’t break down and you can keep your equipment longer over a period of time. “
Thorn also encourages people to take the time to learn about the area you are visiting.
“Whether it’s a body of water you’re interested in or whether it’s Crown land, forest land, etc., figure out what’s in that area in terms of invasive species and take the time to learn what they do and how they interact with native species, ”he said.
You can read more about resources for combating AIS on the Lumberjack RC&D website.