Clean Boats, Clean Waters program reminds anglers to ice fish

Neenah Recreational public boat launch as seen on Sunday, June 3, 2018. (WLUK image)

NEENAH (WLUK) -- As people towed their boats in and out of Lake Winnebago this weekend, Chris Acy was there to greet them with ice packs.

"It's a good way to keep your fish fresh," he told one family after they arrived back from fishing.

He also asked them questions like: have you taken your boat in any other body of water recently?

“Because it could harbor invasive species such as zebra mussels or a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia that could be transported from one lake to another,” said Acy.

He was at the Neenah Rec.'s public boat launch as part of a statewide partnership with the DNR. It's called the Drain Campaign. The cold packs are for the fisherman and to remind them that icing down their catch is the best way to keep the fish fresh.

Now that boat launches are at their busiest, the Drain Campaign is meant to make sure people know they need to clean any plants that are stuck to their trailers or boats, and drain the lake water from any livewells.

“Be aware that you can't take any lake water with you when you leave a launch,” said Acy. “They have to drain all buckets, all live wells. They have to drain their bilges, everything like that.”

He said contamination can cause a large die-off of fish.

“It was a large number of sheepshead, common carp and even a couple sturgeon were impacted this year,” said Acy.

He said it’s the worst it’s been in about four years.

Mark Shannon is an angler.

“It makes it a little tougher to find the perch, find the crappies,” said Shannon. “Because in the places you would normally look for them they're not there.”

Acy said anyone with a boat should make checking for invasive species a habit, and Shannon already does.

This weekend was chosen to spread the word, because more anglers are out taking part in Wisconsin free fishing weekend.

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