Ice Fishing photo

No props, no boat trailers, no risk of spreading invasive species, right? Wrong.

As the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources points out, ice fishermen must also mind the environmental concerns, lest they inadvertently transfer those harmful non-native pests from one water body to another.

Biggest concern these days is the Asian carp (bighead and silver). Anglers often confuse juveniles of this exotic invasive for common baitfish such as gizzard shad or various shiners (gizzard, emerald, spottail).

First step in preventing the spread of invasives is learning to identify these environmental threats. You’ll find good descriptions at the WI DNR site. Young carp may end up in live bait tanks so check any purchased bait and segregate any suspected carp. (Put them on ice and contact the DNR.)

Next, only buy bait from local bait dealers. If you take minnows home after a day of fishing and you’ve added lake water or fish to the container, you can return with them only to that same water body the next day.

Wisconsin’s DNR also offers these prevention points:

– Preserve bait correctly if you catch your own. If you use smelt or other dead bait, preserve it in a way that does not require freezing or refrigeration.

– Don’t move live fish away from the water. Keep the fish you catch and want to take home on the ice until you leave at the end of the day, or carry them away in a dry bucket.

– Drain all water from your equipment. That includes all buckets and containers of fish. When you’re leaving the ice, you may carry up to 2 gallons of water in which to keep your minnows.