A boat launches during a June Prime Water Anglers kid's fishing clinic at Bukolt Park. (Metro Wire photo)

Wisconsin kicks off ‘Drain Campaign’ to combat invasive species

By Patrick Lynn

Wisconsin — Wisconsin’s annual Drain Campaign will take place from May 31 to June 2, coinciding with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Free Fishing Weekend and Invasive Species Action Month.

Volunteers and paid staff will conduct watercraft inspections at boat landings, reminding boaters to drain all water from their boats and serving as a resource for those unfamiliar with these regulations.

The Drain Campaign is an annual effort aimed at helping anglers protect their favorite fishing spots. One crucial action anglers can take is draining containers with their catch, including live wells, before leaving the boat launch. Draining all water helps prevent the spread of waterborne diseases such as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and prevents the spread of zebra mussels, whose larvae are microscopic.

The recommended method for those wondering how to transport their catch home is to ice the catch. Using bagged ice, frozen plastic bottles, or ice packs are effective and inexpensive ways to keep fish fresh and firm.

The volunteers and paid staff conducting watercraft inspections are part of the Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) program, which educates boaters on legal preventative measures, such as draining all water before leaving the boat landing. These efforts are crucial in preventing the spread of diseases and other invasive species. For more information on this program or aquatic invasive species (AIS) in your area, contact Golden Sands staff at [email protected], (715) 343-6215, or visit www.goldensandsrcd.org.

Before leaving the launch, always remember to:

  • Inspect boats, trailers, and equipment for attached aquatic plants or animals.
  • Remove all attached plants or animals.
  • Drain all water from boats, motors, live wells, and other equipment.
  • Never move live fish away from a waterbody (out of water = dead).
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer and use leftover minnows only when fishing on the same water or other waters if no lake/river water or other fish have been added to the container.

These steps help boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species. To learn more about invasive species and their impact on Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov and search “Invasive Species.”