Teaming Up with Tournament Anglers to Stop Aquatic Invasive Species

Oct 26, 2016 | Aquatic Invasive Species

Scott Caven, River Alliance’s Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, educates professional and elite amateur tournament anglers on AIS and the AIS prevention steps at The Bass Federation (TBF) Divisional Qualifier in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Each year, thousands of fishing tournaments – ranging from small, “mom and pop” tournaments to gigantic, nationwide tournaments – take place on Wisconsin waters. Every tournament is unique with distinct variations in size, regulations, species targeted and prize payout. But all fishing tournaments have one thing in common: they have the potential to spread aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Why are fishing tournaments susceptible to spreading AIS from one waterbody to another? Tournament anglers are highly mobile, often fishing in multiple waterbodies or even states for that matter, over the course of a few days. Increasing the risk of transmission even further, tournament equipment – like measuring boards, weighing scales, holding tanks and release boats – can also harbor and spread AIS as the tournament circuit travels from waterbody to waterbody.

For the third consecutive year, River Alliance staff have teamed up with tournament anglers to promote awareness of AIS. Staff attended nationwide fishing tournaments on tour in Wisconsin with education materials for tournament anglers (and tournament staff) about AIS and the AIS prevention steps required by Wisconsin state law. Those prevention steps include inspecting boats, trailers, and equipment; removing all attached aquatic plants and animals; draining all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment; and never moving plants or live fish away from a waterbody. Staff were also on hand to demonstrate and assist with using a pressure washer to rinse off boats, trailers and equipment as well as using a weak bleach or salt solution to clean out livewells.

AIS Intern Washing Boat

Shelby Roberts, River Alliance’s Aquatic Invasive Species Intern, uses a pressure washer to decontaminate a tournament anglers’ boat, trailer and equipment.

Nearly all of the tournament anglers that River Alliance staff have worked with were understanding, interested, and willing to do their part to support AIS prevention. Perhaps that is because they have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects that Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species can have on our precious water resources. Just as they’re passionate about fishing and protecting the hobby, they understand stopping aquatic hitchhikers is one way to protect our waters (and the hobby) for future generations to enjoy.

River Alliance reminds you how you can ensure you are part of the solution – before launching and leaving, Wisconsin law requires you to:

  • INSPECT boats, trailers, and equipment
  • REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals
  • DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment
  • NEVER MOVE plants or live fish away from a waterbody

Tip: Bookmark this page to refer to next season!