Do You Know What's Hitching A Ride On Your Waders?

It’s finally summer! A time of year when we can revel in being Alaskans. For anglers, summer’s long days and sun-filled nights provide unending opportunities for fishing trips – whether it is a long-weekend trip or just an evening down at your favorite local fishing hole. For many of us, a good summer is measured by days on the water, time spent with family and fishing buddies, number of fish caught, or simply by the strength of your wader funk at season’s end. 

But did you know that your regular fishing excursions could inadvertently expose your favorite stream or lake to risk from aquatic hitchhikers that can devastate habitat and ultimately fisheries? Small organisms such as New Zealand mudsnails, Didymo, Whirling Disease and Zebra mussels can be carried on your boat, waders, nets and other fishing gear without you noticing. Once introduced to a lake or stream, these invaders can wreak havoc on habitat and fish populations. They’re also costly to control and nearly impossible to get rid of once established. Often these organisms are well established before they are even noticed, making it easy for anglers to carry these creatures from one fishing hole to the next, unaware of the threat they are spreading.

So far, Alaska has been largely isolated from the ecologic and economic problems that aquatic invasive species are causing throughout the Lower 48. But with thousands of out-of-state anglers coming to Alaska each year, it’s only a matter of time before one of these aquatic hitchhikers makes its way to Alaska’s waters if we aren’t careful. You can be a part of preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species into Alaska’s rivers, lakes and streams by taking a few simple steps. This season, pledge to adopt these “Clean Angling Practices” and make sure that future fishing seasons are just as great (or better!).

  • Inspect - carefully examine your gear at the end of each fishing trip. Look for visible signs of unwanted material that may be attached. This includes any types of plants or mud. If you see any sign of a problem.
  • Clean - first remove any visible material by hand, then use water to wash your equipment clean in the water you are leaving. If you cannot clean before leaving a site, do so when you return home. Clean in an area far away from waterways.
  • Dry – thoroughly drying your equipment will kill many invaders that may have been picked up. To eliminate all moisture from your equipment, dry for 5-9 days.

Learn more about these principles at 

Pick up your Clean Angling Card when you buy your fishing license this year or download it here.

Trout Unlimited, in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has been working with anglers, sporting good retailers, fishing organization and license vendors to educate river and lake users about how they can prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.