Prevention when Fishing

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) is a severe disease of freshwater and marine fish recently found in the Great Lakes. It can be spread by infected fish, contaminated water sources or contaminated objects.

Preventing the further spread of the disease, and other aquatic invasive species, when fishing involves a few basic steps.

  • Buy bait from reputable bait dealers.
  • Follow state regulations regarding bait use.
  • Dispose of unused bait, dead fish, and fish parts in a secure trash area away from the water.
    • Freezing bait does not kill the virus.
  • Thoroughly clean and dry all fishing equipment, bait buckets, boats and trailers before using again.
    • Disinfect vehicles and equipment with a bleach/water solution.
    • Allow the solution to remain in contact with the items for at least 5 minutes before rinsing.
    • Do not rinse bleach solutions into lakes or rivers.
    • You can also wash items with HOT water.
  • Drain all water from vehicles and equipment before leaving the water source. This includes:
    • Boats, trailers, buckets
    • Bilge water, ballast tanks, live wells, coolers, motors, boat hulls
    • Any boots, waders or other aquatic footwear
  • Remove all mud, plants, and aquatic life from equipment.
  • Do not move bait, fish or plants from one body of water to another.
    • Infected fish can spread the virus to other fish. Some fish may be infected without showing signs of the disease.
    • Purchase bait from reliable sources; some states require bait be purchased from certified dealers or shops

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Learn more about preventing VHS and other aquatic nuisance species