Aquatic Invasive Plants and Animals

Fishing Regulations Michigan Freshwater Fishing

Michigan’s waters are threatened by numerous nonnative aquatic invasive plants and animals. Species such as the zebra mussel, round goby, sea lamprey, Eurasian ruffe, European frog-bit, Eurasian watermilfoil, rusty crayfish, and spiny water flea are causing significant damage to Michigan’s natural resources. A number of species also are knocking at the door, including bighead carp and silver carp coming up the Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway that could potentially enter Lake Michigan and snakehead fish that are found in other Midwest states. Aquatic invasive species are harmful to recreational fishing and do extensive economic and natural resource damage. To help reduce the spread of invasive species, anglers are reminded to properly dispose of all bait including worms, crayfish and minnows in a trash receptacle.

The following illustrations show a few of the most serious aquatic nuisance species threatening Michigan:


Invasive Carp Identification

Adult bighead and silver carp are large fish that can be easily identified by the position of their eyes. Both species have eyes that are below a line from the fork of the tail to the mouth. Juvenile invasive carp can be easily confused with minnows and you may find one in your bait bucket.

If you believe you have seen or caught an invasive carp, DO NOT RELEASE IT. Please visit michigan.gov/asiancarp to fill out an online invasive carp reporting form, or call the DNR at 517-284-5830.


Help Stop the Spread!

Anglers and boaters can help prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic invasive species by taking the following steps:

  • Clean, drain and dry boats, trailers, waders and other equipment thoroughly between fishing trips to keep from transporting undesirable fish pathogens and organisms from one water body to another with special care to clean fishing equipment when you are done fishing.
  • A light bleach solution is an excellent disinfectant for cleaning your equipment. You may also want to use a coarse bristled brush and a heated pressure washer.
    • Allow boats, trailers and other equipment to fully dry for at least 5 days in the sun before use.
  • Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.
  • Only purchase live bait from a retailer.
  • Do not release live bait into any water body. Dispose of them properly in the trash.
  • Report unusual fish or unusual numbers of dead or dying fish to the local DNR Customer Service Centers.
  • Educate other anglers about measures they can take to prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic nuisance species.

Natural resource managers are concerned about the introduction of new species and emphasize the importance of reporting any discoveries. Anglers should save and report unidentified fish to contacts listed at michigan.gov/invasivespecies. You can also report to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network at www.misin.msu.edu.

If you have any questions, contact a Customer Service Center or visit michigan.gov/invasivespecies.