Five ways to stay out of troubleWORTHINGTON — It will be interesting to find out if the fishing opener is going to be a week earlier than normal, as some politician apparently wants. This would make the fishing opener the weekend before Mother’s Day, instead of the day before, like almost always happens.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It will be interesting to find out if the fishing opener is going to be a week earlier than normal, as some politician apparently wants. This would make the fishing opener the weekend before Mother’s Day, instead of the day before, like almost always happens.
As I was getting ready for the open water season, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you some of the old and new rules boaters will have to pay attention to before they drop their boat into any lake in Minnesota. The rules deal with aquatic invasive species.
This has become an important issue at the state capital this year and there are rules and regulations flying all over the place to reign in a problem that should have been squarely on everyone’s radar more than 10 years ago.
Absolutely nothing has been done over those same 10 years, so now panic is the name of the game. Aquatic invasive species fall into two basic categories —plant and animal. The most common plant variety that gets a lot of attention in Minnesota is Eurasian Milfoil and the most common animal variety is the Zebra Mussel. Both have the ability to change the way our lakes and rivers will look over future decades and indeed warrant our calculated attention.
One other biggie is the Asian Carp problem. These fish are very problematic and controlling their movements is important. Completely stopping their spread is impossible. To be clear, stopping the spread of any and all aquatic invasive species is, for all practical purposes, impossible. The only thing that can be done is to slow their spread until the scientists can find a way to disrupt their life cycle and ultimately contain their numbers to acceptable level. Up to this point no substantial research has been done, but there is funding in the works to at least get started on this important effort.
Everyone can conclude that stopping the spread is all but impossible, so all we can do is practice the measures that have the best chance of slowing them down.
As a boater in Minnesota, you will need to do five major things in order to avoid being part of the problem and also avoid an unnecessary visit from a law enforcement or conservation officer. The first four are really easy and the fifth is more difficult.
You will need to do an inspection of your boat and trailer every time you leave a lake or river. It is your job and the law requires that you remove any weeds or other vegetation from your rig to ensure you do not transport that vegetation to another lake.
The second is that you will need to drain all of the live wells and bait wells in the boat to ensure lake water from one lake does not end up in another lake. This will help stop the transport of the critters that live in the water. Most of the problems are not visible to the naked eye, so you have no ability to look in the pail and say there is nothing dangerous in there.
The third thing is that the boat plug must be removed before you leave the landing. This will empty the bilge pump area and again not move water around.
I am absolutely sure there will more very wet boat occupants as the reinsertion of the boat’s drain plug is easily forgotten. By draining what you can, we reduce the amount of possible transfer of AIS to other lakes. This is, by no means, a cure all. A boat and its trailer have many nooks and crannies that still have the ability to hold and transfer water. This rule makes us feel good, but it is not the magic bullet that any are wishing it to be.
The fourth requirement is the placement of a sticker in every boat that reminds the occupants to be mindful of the aquatic invasive species rules. This sticker is available at the registrar’s office and I will have a few at my office at Rall Financial Services if you want to stop by and pick one up.
The fifth requirement is the one that is going to cause a lot of heartburn among anglers. If you bring live bait in a bucket of water to the lake, you cannot leave it with that water. The rules state you will need to bring a container of un-contaminated well or tap water and transfer the bait to the uncontaminated water before you leave even if the water you brought in was un-contaminated in the first place.
If you do not bring uncontaminated water with you, the rules will require you leave the bait and the water disposed of properly at the lake you’re leaving before you travel home.
See what I mean about the heartburn. The CO’s have no idea where the water in your bait buckets came from. Did you change out the water in the bucket over and over to keep the bait alive? With no way to know the waters origin, the only fix is to leave it where you found it.
This requirement will add to the bottom line of tackle companies as every angler I know will avoid using live bait at almost all cost. Only if the fish will not bite any other way will anglers deal with this issue.
I wonder what that means to the future bottom line of bait dealers? It could actually mean more bait sales if the angler has to buy new bait every time they travel to a new lake. I wonder what the parks folks will think when they empty garbage cans full of rotting minnows. The AIS rules are on page 14-15 of the 2012 handbook.
There is now an overwhelming desire to do something to slow or stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and I certainly share that concern. The fact of the matter is that the horse has already left the barn on this issue and we should have had this heightened level of concern long before most of these problems were knocking on our state’s door.
We can, and should, do these things to help slow them down, but there is a much bigger effort needed that has little to do with the rank and file angler.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.
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