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Boaters: Clean, Drain, and Dry To Prevent Aquatic Hitchhikers

Iowa Great Lakes — With this weekend being the traditional start to the summer season at the Iowa Great Lakes and other water bodies in northwest Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natual Resources is reminding boaters about what they are calling “aquatic hitchhikers.”

The DNR is repeating the mantra, “Clean, Drain, and Dry.” Mike Hawkins is the DNR Fisheries Biologist at the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery. He tells us there are many kinds of aquatic invasive species that they consider “aquatic hitchhikers.”


But, he says, while there are a lot of “hitchhikers,” there are some simple steps that you can take to help stop their spread.


Hawkins says that unfortunately, you can’t just take your boat out of the water if you don’t have fishing luck in one lake, and transport it and your live bait to another body of water to try your luck there anymore. He says you can still switch lakes, but there are more steps. You’ll have to at least drain your boat and power wash it, throw away any leftover bait in the trash, and buy fresh bait before you switch lakes.

And just a reminder — this is not just for anglers. Anyone who uses a watercraft — pleasure boaters, personal watercraft users, and even hunters in the fall need to take these steps if they use their watercraft in more than one body of water.

The DNR says you can find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at www.iowadnr.gov/ais [1].