Invasive Species

by Jeff Goldberg

Many things have been happening since I wrote the article about the new bait regulations, and how it is now the law that licensed bait stores have to sell certified disease free bait.

We are now concerned about other invasive species such as the Spiny and Fishhook Waterflea. These little bugs are small crustations that threaten our ecosystem which include our fishery by competing with native fish for food and fouling our gear. The Spiny Waterflea was discovered on Lake Ontario in 1982, then spread to all of the Great Lakes and some inland lakes. The Fishhook Waterflea was discovered in 1998 on Lake Ontario and has since spread to all of the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes. Most recently, they have been reported in Great Sacandaga Lake. I have heard unconfirmed reports that they have been in Lake George as well.  Anglers are the first to find these fleas because they collect in masses on fishing line and downrigger cables.  The mass of bugs clog the tiptop of your fishing rod and damage drag systems.

Much of the spread of these pesky bugs is done on fishing equipment. What happens is that the females die out of water, and under certain conditions they will produce eggs (natures way of keeping the species alive) that resist drying.  Therefore, they remain viable because of their resistance to drying which allows them to start a new population in the next body of water they enter.  Eradicating an established population is impossible.  Preventing the spread is the only thing we can do.

We must use the same vigilance on our boats as our fishing gear.  So this pertains to non-anglers as well.  Inspect and remove (clean, disinfect, bleach, etc, whatever it takes) all plants, animals, and bugs from your boat and fishing equipment, including live wells, ice boxes, trailers and anything else you have that might have come in contact with the water.  Before leaving, drain all lake, river, and pond water from your boat and equipment.

This is a very real serious issue.  Think about it, learn about it, and help do something about it.
Keep Your Equipment Clean!!

Much of this information came from the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program.  The Lake George Association also has information about this topic:

Like always, Go Fish, Have Fun, and now Keep It Clean!

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