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5 Ways to Fish Responsibly


Way 2: Nix the Non-natives

Rinsing off after a day at the lake helps to prevent the transfer of foreign organisms to the next site.
Rinsing off after a day at the lake helps to prevent the transfer of foreign organisms to the next site.
TG Stock/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

Something a lot of fishermen don't think about when they substitute one favored fishing hole for another is the likelihood of introducing non-native plants or animals into the habitat. Invading spe­cies can displace native ones by outcompeting them for resources, thus altering the species composition and balance of the ecosystem. Non-native and invasive species cost the United States more than $100 billion dollars each year [source: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation].

To reduce the risk of transferring non-natives, always rinse off gear, clothing and your boat thoroughly before leaving the site, and be sure to drain all the water from your things. Don't use live bait if it's prohibited; and if you are allowed, don't ever dump unused bait into the water. Many bodies of water are now infested with baitfish that are outcompeting the native fish for living space and resources. Some invasive species aren't even visible to the naked eye: Deadly largemouth bass virus (LMBV) and golden algae are easily spread from one body of water to another.

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