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Do your part to keep Vilas County’s lakes and rivers clean


  • Article
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Lakes & Rivers

Help keep Vilas County’s waters free of invasive aquatic species—here are some rules to follow if you’re boating or fishing.

Boating on Otter Lake in fall Vilas County WI

Vilas County is home to one of the largest concentrations of freshwater in the world, meaning lots of opportunities for anglers and boaters to explore Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

But that also means opportunities for invasive aquatic species to spread to Vilas County’s lakes, and that’s where the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program comes in. Through the Clean Boats, Clean Waters watercraft inspection program, volunteers perform boat and trailer checks at lakes across Wisconsin and educate boaters and anglers on how and where invasive species are most likely to appear.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re not helping aquatic hitchhikers? Wisconsin has various laws in place for boaters and anglers to help prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.

All boaters are required to:

  • Inspect boat, trailers, and equipment
  • Remove all attached aquatic plants and animals before launching, after loading, and before transporting watercraft on a public highway
  • Drain all water from boats, motors, and equipment
  • Never move plants or live fish away from a body of water
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash
  • Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer; leftover minnows can only be used under certain conditions

Violations of these laws can lead to fines. Learn more about transportation and bait laws here.