Wisconsin’s annual Drain Campaign will kick off June 4th-6th, aligning with both the WDNR Free Fishing Weekend and Invasive Species Action Month. Anglers, a major action you can take is to remember to drain those livewells and fish buckets before leaving the launches this fishing season.
Wisconsin boaters and our regular visitors from other states have become pros when it comes to draining all water from their boats and gear before leaving one lake or river and heading to another. Thanks for showing others the routine when they see you at launches taking this step plus removing any plant or tiny animal debris from your boat and trailer.
Draining all water helps prevent the spread of numerous invasive species that we can’t easily see. These include diseases, such as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), and microscopic larvae of zebra mussels. When it comes to moving your catch, ice will keep the fish fresher than water as you move them from the lake to the plate, too. Draining and rinsing your engine, especially if you don’t use your boat frequently, reduces the chance of mussel’s larvae doing irritating things like plugging your engine intake.
Every year, Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) boat inspectors are at launches throughout the state reminding anglers and all boaters about the water draining law in Wisconsin. The CBCW program is one of our premier prevention efforts. Lake and river organizations apply for annual grants to help fund their work at the launches. The Lakes Monitoring and Protection Network Surface Water Grants provide non-competitive funds to counties to hire aquatic invasive species (AIS) staff who also support the CBCW program with training and often make launch visits themselves. The Sheboygan County AIS Coordinator, Patrick Siwula, can be reached at 920-889-1000 or email@example.com to learn more about AIS programs and related volunteer opportunities in the area.
Anglers have come to expect the Drain Campaign Ice Your Catch ice packs at launches over the weekend, however, supplies won’t be as abundant as in the past. Due to the pandemic, it was not possible to coordinate a re-order for 2021. However, many organizations have last year’s supply available and WDNR is welcoming people to resume distributing them at the launches again if they can do so safely. Sheboygan County was able to secure a shipment of promotional towels that will be used in future Drain Campaigns, and will distribute these as supplies allow.
No matter where you launch, always remember before you leave the launch to:
• Inspect boats, trailers and equipment for attached aquatic plants or animals.
• Remove all attached plants or animals
• Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells 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
• Only use leftover minnows when either 1) fishing with them on the same body of water or 2) on other waters if no lake/river water or other fish have been added to the container.
Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species. To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit DNR.wi.gov and search “Invasive Species.”