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Innovation should be rewarded: New products help control spread of AIS

The last two years have shared a few incidents that have occurred for me as I get used to pulling and installing my boat's drain plug.

The first year I had multiple opportunities, and those incidents always created some excitement. Last year, I installed one of the DNR's warning/reminder stickers on my transom saver and that reduced the incidents considerably (plus saved a year's worth of practice).

I still did have a couple of incidents, and the last one was in the late fall with 48 degree water temps, and me with my arm in the water up to my ear searching for the hole and praying I wasn't going to drop the plug (I do have extras, but still).

I know most of you don't have the slow learning curve I do and don't ever have issues like this, but for the few of you that do, I have a recommendation.

The first week in May, I installed a check valve plug in my boat. This product is made buy the same company as the "Digger Anchor."

I was a little skeptical about this and wondered about it getting stuck open, but then figured it wouldn't be any different than what I have already experienced, so I gave it a try.

I am impressed and pleased about this product and now wonder why I didn't think of it first. This is such a great idea that boat manufacturers will probably come up with a similar system to build into the boats. Your boat will always drain as you pull your boat out of the lake with this check valve.

No, I am not sponsored by them. I just think good ideas need to be shared.

I bought mine at Quality Bait here in Detroit Lakes. They are the first in the area to carry them, but as they become more popular, others will carry them also.

The cost is around $30 -- well worth the money to me. They are made for all types of boats. This is the kind of innovative product we will continue to see developed to help with controlling the spread of AIS (aquatic invasive species).

Some of the first ideas was the bait carriers that have come on the market. Not just for minnows either. Now there is also a bedding that leeches can be put in so you are never messing with changing water.

Everyone already knows about cleaning weeds off your trailer as a practice to also help prevent the spread of AIS. It is easy to check in the daylight but much more difficult at night. Carry a flashlight or spotlight, and your boat check is easier and more through.

I have observed and figured out some helpful tips for getting under the boat to get the weeds off. Kids have become a valuable asset for preventing the spread of AIS. Those buggers can get under there and the game of clean out under the boat becomes fun.

They also become the next generation that is trained and in the habit of making sure weeds are not transported.

Energetic fishing partners are also beneficial for this clean up task. A great problem solver I know carries a hockey stick in his truck that works great for getting to those hard to reach places.

As long as we are on the subject of AIS prevention, just a couple of reminders that go beyond some of the standard information you have been educated about.

If you like to use your anchor occasionally, make sure that it is totally free of all weeds and bottom debris before stowing it away in your compartment.

My anchor weighs 32 pounds and has a chain on it so I have had to develop my own system of holding in place to clean.

Also, make sure rods that get stowed don't have any weeds on the hooks.

When done for the day, don't just clean the outside of the boat and trailer but clean out the weeds that may have collected in your splash wells or other sneaky hiding spots they seem to find in your boat.

Get out, get fishing and practice cleaning up your boat afterward.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)