The spiny water flea could wreak havoc in Midwest Lakes

The Spiny Water Flea Could Wreak Havoc on the Most Pristine Waters in the Upper Midwest. Boaters and Anglers are the Only Ones Who Can Stop It

The spiny water flea is a tiny invasive species that’s threatening gamefish species as it spreads from the Great Lakes

It seems that the next troublesome invasive species in the Upper Midwest is a tiny one. The spiny water flea has been latching onto fishing equipment, traveling the Great Lakes for decades, but now they are being transported to some of the most pristine waters in the Upper Midwest. The spiny water flea is about half an inch long. It’s a creepy little critter, with a single, distinctive black eyespot at the head of one to four spines. A barbed tail juts out of its backside, making up about 70 percent of its length. The translucent hitchhiker hooks onto watercraft, fishing lines—essentially everything and anything that touches the water—and then gets transported to new waters.

Spiny Water Flea

Spiny Water Flea

“Most water fleas eat algae, but a few of them, like spiny water fleas, also eat other water fleas. It’s kind of like wolves eating coyotes or foxes,” says Dr. Valerie Brady, Aquatic Ecologist at the University of Minnesota.

While they present no danger to humans or domestic animals, spiny water fleas rattle ecosystems that support game fish. Spiny water fleas feed on other smaller, native water fleas, which are a vital food sources for small fish and keep algae in check. When plankton populations crash, that sinks small fish numbers, which in turn decreases game fish numbers.

“It’s not just another addition to the food web, it disrupts the food web and makes it harder for small or young fish to feed. That has potential implications for the whole food web,” Brady says.

The spiny water flea is being studied and monitored in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As more new anglers and boaters hit the water last year during COVID—and could be back out this spring—it’s even more critical to get the word out about this invader.

Like most damaging invasive species, spiny water fleas reproduce rapidly. At optimum temperatures, one female can produce 10 genetic replicas every two weeks.

Currently, there are no successful means to eradicate the species. With no natural predators, there’s no stopping water fleas once they land in a lake. Small fish will choke or puncture their organs if they try to consume the flea due to its long, sharp spine.

Spiny water fleas also bring a million-dollar public recreation problem. As the fleas feed on plankton that consume algae, algae blooms begin to sprout up across a lake. Water treatment costs stack up, with municipalities spending millions to return to clearer water, including Wisconsin’s Lake Mendota.

“Two to four million was the estimate of water treatment costs to get the same level of water quality that [Lake Mendota] had before spending water fleas,” says Tim Campbell, aquatic invasive species outreach specialist at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

The spiny water flea was first identified in North American in 1984 in Lake Huron. Native to Russia’s Lake Ladoga, adjacent to the Baltic Sea, it arrived in the Midwest in the early 1980s after ships from European ports discharged ballast water into the St. Laurence River.

In the quarter-century since, the aquatic hitchhikers have spread by the “billions” across all of the Great Lakes. The creatures have begun to invade “our most pristine lakes,” the smaller inland waters of the Midwest and Canada.

“Once they get in, you can’t get rid of them. There’s no way to kill them without killing everything in the lake. That’s why we’re focusing so hard on stopping their spread,” Brady says.

Ecologists are calling on anglers and recreators to halt their spread. The most important step is to completely dry all fishing and boating equipment. The microscopic fleas can cling to fishing lines and survive in lake water at the base of your boat. Running a cloth down your fishing line can eliminate any aquatic hitchhikers reeled in.

“They cannot survive drying, so we urge anglers to get everything completely dry. The guidance is five days between boating trips [to different bodies of water], so if you [boat in spiny flea infested water] on Sunday, wait until the following weekend to go to a different body of water,” Campbell says.

Some have suggested that ducks are the culprits of cross-water spreads, but humans transporting the fleas is the clear issue. If you map out their spread, Brady notes, the majority of the fleas are found in lakes with public access.

Outdoor Life 02-10-2021

Fishing Report Lake Erie Monroe Michigan 07-03-2020

Walleye fishing on the Western Basin has been very productive during the Mayfly hatch especially early morning and late afternoon. Best bets are off Stoney Point near the restriction buoys at Fermi in 22 to 24 ft. of water. Either side on #1 buoy for about a mile and a half all the way back towards Bolles Harbor into 17 feet of water. The “Swamp” near Turtle Island to Luna Pier in 15′ to 17′ of water produced early mornings. I’ve used spoons with mini disc’s and wiggle warts both run from 70′ to 80′ back – color didn’t seem to matter. High divers at 42′ to 45′ and low divers 32′ to 36′. Jr. Silver Streak spoon – Cat-Dog  seemed the best on my low diver. Lots of short walleye this week, be patient the keepers will come. It’s a good thing for our future.

Walleye fishing Lake Erie

Walleye fishing Lake Erie

Please be courteous to fellow trollers and drifters we are all out to have fun and catch some walleye. Remember the U.S.C.G. “rules of the road” state if you are being approached by another vessel from your port side you the “right of way”. If you are being approached from your starboard side you “must give way” to the approaching vessel.  If your board gets run over it’s probably an accident  no need to come unglued at the offending fisherman. Have fun Be safe  

Lake Erie walleye numbers in stratosphere, future is bright

“The totals are astonishing,” said Hale. “We had high numbers in the 1980s, but we’ve made adjustments to our methods of counting walleye numbers, and believe this year’s population one the best we’ve seen.

“We have estimated today’s population of walleye that are two years old, or older, is about 116 million,” said Hale. “Our forecast for 2021 is a walleye population of 151 million.”

“The largest year-class in our present population is the 2018 class, which makes up about 75 percent of the population,” said Hale. “Anglers will be catching lots of walleye that are under the 15-inch size limit this summer, but those walleye will be legal to keep in 2021.”

2020 outlook read more

 

Fishing Report Lake Erie Monroe Michigan 09-20-2019

Perch fishing is beyond slow for this time of the year. Our average catch has been around 40 perch for 4 hours of fishing. The perch are either 5 to 6 inches or 10 plus inches. The surface water temperature has been 70 degrees since August. I am catching lots of 3 to 6 inch walleyes in with the perch. Lately I’ve caught 10 to 12 inch walleye right on the bottom where the perch should be. I’ve fished from the Toledo Lighthouse to Sputnik, Brest Bay and as far North as the Banana Dike with the same results,  about 40 perch on average kept. 

I will be attending a Lake Erie Committee meeting next week and hope to find out more about our dismal perch fishing. Hopefully we can get some trawl data soon to see if what we a marking as perch are really perch on the bottom.

Walleye fishing has been on and off depending on the day. Last weekend a few fellow captains caught limit catches but that petered out at the beginning of the week due to North East winds. They fished from E Buoy to the Raisin River buoys using Bandits 70 to 80 feet back and varying their speed.      

Fishing Report Lake Erie Michigan 08-30-2019

Perch fishing has been super slow. I’ve tried spots from “E” buoy all the way up to Fermi, the average catch has been 30 to 50 perch. Northeast winds have not helped and the wind seems to switch every couple of days. 

Walleye fishing has also been very slow around the Michigan dump all the way up to Brest Bay. 4 to 10 fish has been the average catch using bandits 70 to 90 back.

Walleye Fishing Report Lake Erie Michigan 07-18-2019

It seems you can’t troll past a spot on the Western Basin of Lake Erie without catching a walleye. Best action I’ve seen is around the #1 bouy off the Raisin River north to Stoney Point to in front of Fermi. There are fish south of the bouy, but the farther you go south of the bouy the less fish there are. There are also walleye between #1 and the Edison plant in 16 to 18 feet of water. Out in front of Bolles Harbor on an angle towards #1 has produced limit catches for my buddies. Seems like the fish are in that area first thing in the morning feeding. As the sun rises they tend to sink to the

Walleye fishing Lake Erie, Stray Cat Charter Fishing

Lake Erie Walleye fishing

bottom, so you may have to lengthen your leads to 80 ft. I’ve been running wiggle warts 60 to 70 ft. back with a trolling speed of between 2.7 and 3 mph depending on the angle of my troll. Best colors are ones with a red bill and gold belly. Straight upwind seems to produce the best for me. Mini discs and spoons have produced just as well at 65 ft back and they help keep the bits of string weeds off the spoons. Check your baits often for weeds. High drivers at 45 (set at 3) and low divers at 32 ft (set at 1) with Silver Streak Jr.  are hot some days and not so other days.

Give way to fellow trollers there are plenty of fish for everyone so don’t crowd each other. We are all out to have some fun and catch some fish. Remember any boat approaching from your left has the Right of Way. 

Walleye Fishing Report Lake Erie Michigan 05-29-2019

Lake Erie walleye was good despite the iffy weather. #1 Buoy off the Raisin River in 24 ft of water and in front of Brest Bay. Mini disc’s and spoons back 70 to 80 ft, any spoon with pink or chartreuse seemed best. Low divers 45 back and high divers 55 back. Please be mindful of other boats, be polite and give way. Share the lake

Walleye Fishing Report Lake Erie Michigan 05-18-2019

Fishing was very good in front of the Edison plant from 18 to 22 ft. deep. Bandits fished 80 ft back, in perch or black w/gold back colors seemed to produce the best for me. Despite the muddy water and East winds the walleye were cooperative. The walleye seemed larger on average than this time last year. The water surface temp. was around 57.5 degrees so very slow troll was needed, 1.5 mph

Share your thoughts with the DNR at upcoming meetings

March 21, 2019

Share your thoughts with the DNR at upcoming meetings

The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan citizens the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. One important avenue for this input is at meetings of the public bodies that advise the DNR and, in some cases, also set policies for natural resource management

Conversations and Coffee fisheries meetings

In addition, the public is invited to join DNR Fisheries Division staff at Conversations & Coffee events this spring for an informal opportunity to discuss local issues and management activities, and to get specific questions answered. More information is available at www.Michigan.gov/Fishing or by contacting Elyse Walter at 517-284-5839.

  • April 2, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tahquamenon Area Public Library, Newberry
  • April 4, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Holiday Inn Express Munising-Lakeview, Munising
  • April 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center, Mattawan
  • April 9, 2 to 3 p.m., webinar for those interested in southern Lake Huron waters, register online
  • April 9, 6:30 p.m., Bay City State Park Visitor Center, Bay City
  • April 10, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Waterford Fisheries Station, Waterford
  • April 16, 6 p.m., Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie
  • April 23, 6 to 8 p.m. (CDT), Gogebic Community College, Ironwood
  • April 24, 7 to 9 p.m., Ishpeming Township Hall, Ishpeming
  • April 25, 7 to 9 p.m., Portage Lake District Library, Houghton

April meetings

read more

Lake Erie Charter Fishing Trips

A trip on a charter fishing boat is a great way to spend a day on the water

Looking to spend a few hours or a whole day fishing this summer? Michigan’s waters offer plenty of opportunities to catch a variety of fish, and summer is an ideal time to try. Charter fishing businesses throughout the state offer a great way to explore Michigan’s world-class fisheries. 

Licensed charter captains provide the boats and all the equipment, plus the knowledge needed for a fun half-day or day on the water. Charter businesses in Michigan help children and adults have memorable fishing experiences – whether it’s reeling in a fish for the first time or trying your hand at catching a new species.

“Last year 72,000 anglers in Michigan participated in more than 18,000 charter fishing trips on the Great Lakes and other navigable waters,” said Donna Wesander, a DNR fisheries technician who tracks charter fishing data. “These anglers caught nearly 300,000 fish that included a variety of salmon and trout, walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and muskie.” 

Lake Erie walleye charter trip in Michigan

Al with a Lake Erie walleye caught aboard Stray Cat Charter Fishing

When hiring a professional charter, customers need only to provide personal supplies and fishing licenses. Those licenses can be purchased online (mdnr-elicense.com) or through a DNR customer service center or license agent.  

Find a fishing charter for a specific location by searching online for charter operators and regional charter fishing organizations, contacting the local chamber of commerce or city tourism office, or visiting the Michigan Charter Boat Association website at michigancharterboats.com