Wisconsin's 2023 Drain Campaign, June 2-4

Fishing and caring for our waters, go hand in hand. Wisconsin’s Drain Campaign, which falls on WDNR’s Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-4, reminds anglers that an invaluable way that they can protect Wisconsin’s rivers, streams and lakes is by always draining their livewells and fish buckets before leaving fishing access points.

Draining is one of the important steps we take to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), which includes the microscopic larvae of zebra mussels and disease, such as the fish virus VHS. Besides draining the livewell and buckets, pull the plugs on the boat to drain it and tip the motor straight up and down to drain before securing it for the drive ahead.

If possible, get your catch on ice as soon as possible. The cold will keep your fish fresh and reduce bacterial growth. Fish kept in water actually foul the water with waste toxic to them, including nitrite and ammonia.

During the weekend, Clean Boats, Clean Waters boat inspectors will also be at launches across the state to give anglers blue boat towels printed with the Drain You Catch message.

The following steps are required by law to prevent aquatic invasive species.

  • INSPECT boats, trailers and equipment.
  • REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals.
  • DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment, including livewells and buckets containing fish.
  • NEVER MOVE plants or live fish away from a waterbody.
  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash

BUY minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer. Use leftover minnows only when fishing with them on the same body of water or on other waters as long as no lake or river water or other fish have been added to their container.

To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/lakes/invasives.