Aquatic invasive species are a potentially huge problem. The spread of Asian carp, zebra and quagga mussels, and invasive aquatic plants threaten fish and wildlife is lakes and rivers. To help combat this, boaters and anglers in South Dakota have new rules to follow to help slow the spread of invasive species in the state's waters.

South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks announced that as of May 11, 2015 all vegetation and aquatic invasive species must be cleaned from boats, trailers and other watercraft. All plugs and similar devices must be opened or removed as well. There are exceptions to this, like when the boat is in a boat ramp parking lot or if the boat is being loaded onto it's trailer.

Taking bait or fish in water that are taken from a body of water is also not allowed. Bait in water can be kept in water from the dock to a cleaning station near the dock. The water must be drained before leaving the cleaning station. The same goes for the boat if it is en route on it's trailer from the ramp to the cleaning station, plugs and other devices may remain closed. The must be opened, however, before the boat leaves the launch area.

If you want to take your fish home to clean them, instead of cleaning them at lakeside cleaning station, three rules must be followed.

  1. In a container (not a part of the boat), that is filled with domestic water (tap water, well water, bottled water, ice).
  2. On ice - in a cooler or pull the plug on their livewell and fill it with ice (plug must remain out).
  3. Dry - put fish in an empty bucket or pull the livewell plug before leaving the boat ramp and let it drain when traveling.

Obviously, not every fishing hole in the state has a cleaning station handy. If that is the case where you go fishing, pull the plugs on your bait containers and drain them of all lake water.

“We realize these are big changes for boaters and anglers across the state,” SD GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler said in a statement. “And we thank those who have already started to comply with these new rules and for helping us spread the message about how others can do their part to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species in South Dakota. If each of us takes responsibility to do what we can to protect our resources today, these outdoor activities will continue to be enjoyed by future generations for years to come. Thank you again.”