With the Minnesota fishing opener approaching this weekend, anglers are reminded to not only practice social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but to also prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,  everyone must clean aquatic plants and debris from watercraft, drain lake or river water and keep drain plugs out during transport, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.

Lt. Col. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division assistant director, it's crucial for thes steps to be taken every time a boat comes out of the water:

“All anglers and boaters in Minnesota are required to take three simple steps: clean, drain, dispose,” Salo said. “It’s not only the best way to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, but it’s also the law in Minnesota.”

The DNR also recommends that anglers take one of these additional steps:

  • Spray boat and trailer with high-pressure water
  • Rinse boat and trailer with very hot water (120 degrees for two minutes; or 140 degrees for 10 seconds)
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

Of course, fishing openers across the Northland are different this year in that we are all facing the COVID-19 pandemic.  While getting outdoors is encouraged, all outdoor enthusiasts are also encouraged to:

  • Stay close to home.
  • Not congregate when outdoors.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health.
  • Remain home if they are ill or exhibiting any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

When it comes to boating, there are additional social distance guidelines to consider:

  • Only boat with people in your immediate household.
  • Do not invite guests or anyone outside your household onto your boat.
  • Do not go boating if someone in your group is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone who is sick.
  • When launching your boat, keep a safe distance of at least six feet from others
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