Officials Advise On Spiny Water Fleas

Started by Smallie_Stalker, July 13, 2016, 03:49:39 PM

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Spiny Water Fleas Spur Reminder to Anglers and Boaters on Preventing Spread of Invasive Species

Officials advise anglers and boaters to clean, drain and dry

SHELBURNE, Vt. – Recent reports of spiny water fleas becoming snagged on fishing gear used on Lake Champlain have prompted officials to urge anglers and boaters to take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of this and other harmful aquatic invasive species.

"Lake Champlain boat launch stewards have been hearing about spiny water flea sightings by anglers over the last month, and last week we removed the first sample off a downrigger cable during a routine courtesy boat inspection at the Shelburne Bay fishing access area," said Meg Modley, aquatic invasive species management coordinator with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. "The best method for preventing the spread of spiny water fleas is simply letting them dry out, which of course applies to any fishing or boating equipment that they might attach to."

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good added it's critical that anglers thoroughly inspect their boats and gear after a day of fishing.

"Spiny water flea can cling to downrigger cables, fishing line, anchor rope and other things, so the first step is to inspect all your equipment and remove any visible globs of spiny water flea," said Good. "Letting gear dry completely for several days will also kill all life stages of spiny water flea."

The spiny water flea, which was first confirmed in Lake Champlain in 2014, is a non-native zooplankton roughly one-half inch in length. Spiny water fleas do not bite and pose no risk to swimmers in Lake Champlain. They prey directly on native zooplankton, and compete with other species for food resources disrupting the native aquatic food chains and changing the native aquatic community.

This invasive species originally appeared in North America in Lake Huron in 1984 and has since spread throughout the Great Lakes and beyond. It was found in both the Lake Champlain Canal near Whitehall, New York and in New York's Lake George in 2012. It is unknown how spiny water flea entered Lake Champlain, though it may have hitchhiked overland on fishing equipment, a boat or trailer, or come through the Lake Champlain Barge Canal or Lake George's outlet – the La Chute River – which flows into Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, New York.

"The main key for anglers and boaters is to remember to clean, drain and dry all boats and equipment after each use," said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "Making sure that your boat and gear is cleaned and dried before launching at another access area is critical to helping to prevent the further spread of any aquatic invasive species, including the spiny water flea."

Rinsing with 140°F degree water is also believed to be effective in killing spiny water fleas and reducing the risk of spread.

The long tail of the spiny water flea has a number of hook-like barbs which causes it to stick to fishing line and cables trolled through the water when fishing. To reduce the risk of this happening, anglers can use specialty lines designed with specific shape and material characteristics that prevent them from latching onto the line.

For trolling, anglers can spool fishing reels with a heavier weight (larger diameter) main line, and then use a short thin leader to the lure. A heavier main line helps to keep the spiny water fleas from catching the line between their barbs and accumulating, while the smaller diameter leader allows anglers to effectively target line-shy species like trout and salmon.

For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species, visit or
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