Aquatic nuisance species are a big deal. The word “nuisance” in the description is misleading. They can be much more than a simple nuisance – they can devastate a fishery.
Aquatic nuisance species are by definition plants or animals that don’t occur naturally in a specific waterway, and they don’t have any natural predators. For that reason, they are able to spread rapidly once they get established. There’s nothing there that will eat them, so they are free to reproduce and prosper.
Some of these species, like New Zealand Mudsnails and Zebra or Quagga mussels, adhere to rocks, stumps, and other underwater features. They also stick themselves to dams, water pipes, boat engines, and anything else they can latch onto. Before long, they cause serious damage to these structures, and they can disrupt city water or power systems. Getting rid of them once they get established is nearly impossible, and it’s an incredibly expensive undertaking.
Other species, like Asian carp and rusty crayfish, outcompete the native species, which might be food for the fish you and I like to catch. Invasive plants, like hydrilla, Eurasian water milfoil and curly pondweed, outcompete the native plants that form the foundation of the food chain. Without those plants, there is eventually no food for trout, walleye or other fish we enjoy angling for.
Be sure to drain, clean and dry anything you put in the water before you take it to another lake or stream. That includes boats, kayaks, waders, and even your wader boots. If you have felt-soled wading boots, take extra care to get that felt drained, cleaned and dried. The felt can provide a haven for these nasty critters. Be certain they’re free of any debris before you use them again.
Let’s keep our waters clean of aquatic nuisance species.