This blog post was written by: Kirk Acharya, Coordinator, CAKE CISMA

Calling all ice fisherpeople! Help stop the spread of invasive species between lakes. Even in the dead of winter when the lakes freeze over aquatic invasive species (AIS) can still thrive and hitch a ride on your tackle and tip-ups. In Northern Michigan many lakes are plagued with Eurasian Water Milfoil and Zebra mussels; two species that can survive under the ice over winter. Unfortunately, these species can move to new lakes when only small pieces (>1 inch) are carried via tackle or in bits of mud. When species such as Eurasian Water milfoil invade new lakes they can disrupt the natural food chain and nutrient cycling within the lake that can have lasting consequences for the sport fish we all enjoy pulling up through the ice hole. This means it is just as important to clean and dry your fishing equipment in winter as it is in the summer.

To help stop the spread of AIS when you are out ice fishing, remember to:

  • Thoroughly inspect and clean all fishing equipment, line, hooks, nets, scoops and augers after each use.
  • Drain all water from equipment and containers containing fish prior to leaving the ice.
  • If you are using live bait, buy it locally from a licensed bait dealer (in Michigan) and dispose of any unused bait properly. Michigan law prohibits the use of leftover minnows in another body of water to prevent the spread of fish diseases.
  • Pack out your waste from the ice and dispose of it in appropriate waste containers.
  • Dry all your equipment for 5 or more days or disinfect it with an appropriate disinfection solution.

To learn more, see a related post by the Michigan State University Extension and visit their website for more AIS prevention information.

If you are interested in learning more about AIS in Northern Michigan and what you can do to help, contact your local invasive species management organization, CAKE CISMA, at