It’s fishing and boating season, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) reminds boaters and anglers that they play a critical role in preventing the spread of aquatic invaders that threaten Kansas waters. Anyone who boats or fishes in Kansas can learn more about Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) at ProtectKSWaters.org.
ANS in Kansas include: white perch, two species of Asian carp – silver and bighead, zebra mussels, and three plant species – salt cedar, Eurasian watermilfoil and purple loosestrife. Kansas boaters and anglers should be familiar with the regulations put in place to prevent the spread of ANS.
Live baitfish may be caught and used as live bait only within the common drainage where caught. However, live baitfish shall not be transported and used above any upstream dam or barrier that prohibits the normal passage of fish. Live baitfish collected from designated aquatic nuisance waters shall be possessed or used as live bait only while on that water and shall not be transported from the water alive. Bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.
Live bait purchased from a permitted bait dealer can be used anywhere in the state but no live fish may be transported from an ANS designated water. Baitfish must be disposed on land or in approved receptacles. Bilges and livewells must also be drained before leaving.
These regulations are necessary because zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, are microscopic and suspended in the water column. At Kansas lakes with established zebra mussel populations, there may be as many as 1,000 veligers in a single gallon of lake water. Within 2-3 weeks, the veligers settle out under the weight of their forming shell. Adult zebra mussels look like small clams with jagged brown or black stripes. They attach to underwater surfaces and can reach densities of 100,000 individuals per square meter. Zebra mussels can clog water intake pipes, costing electric generating plants an estimated $145 million annually to control them. In addition, shells from dead mussels can accumulate along shorelines, making wading and swimming dangerous.
Silver and bighead carp threaten Kansas waterways and fish populations. These prolific plankton eaters can eat up to 40 percent of their body weight each day, competing with native fish for food and threatening the diversity and quality of other aquatic life. When young, Asian carp resemble native minnows and shad, which is why baitfish regulations limit the movement of wild-caught baitfish. When grown, Asian carp can weigh up to 100 pounds, and they are prone to leaping out of the water when disturbed by a passing motorboat, posing a real physical threat to boaters.
There are three primary ways the public can help stop ANS from spreading:
- CLEAN – DRAIN – DRY– boats and equipment after every visit to any lake or river
- DON’T MOVE LIVE FISH – between bodies of water or up streams
- DON’T DUMP BAIT IN THE WATER OR DRAINAGE DITCHES – Instead, discard bait on dry land or in an approved receptacle
Learn more about aquatic nuisance species at ProtectKSWaters.org and in the 2017 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary.]