Operation Bait Bucket in full force

by Guest Author | February 13, 2014

bait bucket - a pail with bait in it
More people fish Lake Simcoe during the winter months than during the entire open water season, and when they do, conservation advocates hope they don’t just take their catch home, but their unused bait too.

“It’s actually illegal to dump your bait bucket in the water,” said Matt Smith, Invading Species Awareness Program Coordinator with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).“Through Operation Bait Bucket we are trying to educate anglers about possible invasive species in their bait buckets.”

Lake Simcoe is already home to a number of invasive species and Operation Bait Bucket (OBB) is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the OFAH under the Invading Species Awareness Program that educates anglers on what they can do to prevent Simcoe from becoming a vector and further damaging the lake’s aquatic system .

Being the most heavily fished inland lake in Ontario, “[Lake Simcoe] gets a lot of visitor anglers that could potentially be moving bait, so we talk to them about the dangers involved with that as well,” explained Wil Wegman with the MNR Aurora District who helps coordinate the program. “Lake Simcoe has already received its fair share of invasives…we don’t want [anglers’] actions to be a threat to other water bodies.”

The program has been in full force this winter and with Family Fishing Events happening over the Family Day weekend, there will be additional OBB crews on the ice, says Wegman.

“It’s a very relaxed, fun dialogue we have with these anglers and we get across our key message, which is to help stop the spread of invasives,” he said.

Learn more about OBB and the Invasive Species Awareness Program here.

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