Set Your Hook

Stop Invasive Species

Do you remember how I said that there are now Northern Pike in Ashurst Lake? Well, I did a bit more digging into that and I found out that not only are the pike a non-native, invasive species, they were also introduced into Ashurst Lake by somebody OTHER than Game & Fish.

Northern Pike: Courtesy of Arizona Game & Fish

Now, that might not seem like a big deal to you. Ashurst Lake can easily support a population of pike. However, Ashurst has always been managed as a trout and catfish lake. By some angler moving Northern Pike from another lake (probably Upper Lake Mary which IS managed for pike) into Ashurst, that person effectively killed the trout population.

There are invasive species that get introduced into our waterways through all types of means. Sometimes a well meaning person “frees” the crayfish a 5-year-old caught, not knowing that it was just introduced into a new water area. Or the invasive species hitchhikes from one lake to another on the bottom of a boat, like the quagga mussels that are invading Arizona.

And another way is somebody just DECIDING to introduce a species.

However it happens we all have to do our part to not knowingly continue the spread of invasive species.

Game and Fish Department officials are asking for all boaters and anglers to help fight the continuing spread of these and other invaders by routinely taking simple precautionary steps:

Know Your Fishing Regulations:

For example, any Northern Pike that is caught in Ashurst Lake must be killed. It doesn’t matter the size of the fish, it cannot be caught and released back into the water. But, if you didn’t know that and caught a little one, you might think you were doing everyone a favor to release it back into the lake for it to grow a bit more!

Game & Fish officials are usually the nicest people around. They are passionate about maintain habitats for everybody to enjoy. Before you head to a new fishing area, give them a call and find out if there’s anything specific you need to know.

Kill Your Catch At The Lake-Side

One major rule in Arizona prohibits the transportation of any live fish. If you catch a fish (or a crayfish) it must be killed at the lake before transported.

If you can’t clean the fish at the lake because there are no facilities or trash service, then usually you can put it on ice until you get home. That’s how we transport the crayfish we catch at a lake when we’re taking them back to camp to cook.

Ice works to kill crayfish at the lakeside. They must be dead before transporting them!

Know What Species Are Invasive

Again, being familiar with your state’s invasive species and the state’s policies goes a long way towards helping maintain healthy waterways.

The quagga mussel invasion in Arizona has advanced from the Colorado River lakes to the state’s interior. Arizona Game & Fish got very concerned over finding just one mussel since they knew that it there was one, there were more.

Arizona has new laws concerning quagga mussels.

A single quagga mussel can produce 30,000 to 40,000 fertilized eggs in a single breeding cycle, and one adult female quagga can release up to a million eggs in a single year.


Maintain Your Boat

Before leaving a lake or other waterway, always:

  • CLEAN the hull of your boat
  • DRAIN the water from the boat, livewell and the lower unit
  • DRY the boat, fishing gear, and equipment
  • INSPECT all exposed surfaces
  • REMOVE all plant and animal material

Keeping your boat free of aquatic hitchhikers not only helps waterways but can extend the life of your boat.

After you leave a lake or other body of water, please wait five days before launching your boat someplace else. This five-day-waiting period will aid tremendously in killing those hidden hitchhikers on your boat, such as the microscopic quagga mussel larvae.

Also, it is a good idea to wash the hull of your boat with high-pressure water either at the lake, if washers are available, or after leaving the waterway.

Remember, many of these aquatic hitchhikers can harm your boat as well. These invaders will attach themselves to boats, and can cause damage to boat motors if they block the flow of cooling water through the engine.

It’s a lot easier to prevent the spread of an invasive species than it is to get rid of it after it has a foothold in a waterway.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What species have invaded your area?
  • What steps do you take to prevent the spread of invasive species?
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