Lake Simcoe ... VHS Positive Zone Could Infect Other Lakes

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2012
The Aurora Bassmasters would like to remind all boaters and anglers who visit Lake Simcoe, to be absolutely certain they do not inadvertently transfer water from this lake to others in the province.

"Boaters can follow a series of simple yet effective preventive measures in order to slow the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS), which was confirmed  in Lake Simcoe last year, said David Meadows president of the club."  The deadly fish virus has already been responsible for significant fish die offs in Lake Ontario, and was responsible for a fish die off in Lake Simcoe last year.

VHS is a highly contagious disease that can weaken and kill fish. Not all fish carrying the virus show symptoms of the disease. VHS infected fish pose no risk to human health and are safe to eat and handle however as a precaution, fish that appear sick should not be harvested. Many species of fish are susceptible including walleye, yellow perch, muskellunge, smallmouth and largemouth bass, black crappie, sunfish, gobies and emerald shiners.

Anglers are asked to do their part to slow the spread of the virus by disinfecting livewells (one part household bleach to ten parts water) between waterbodies and to ensure they don't transfer baitfish or water  (VHS can be present in water)  from Lake Simcoe to any other waterbody. "Although it's terrible to see a thousand fish die off because of VHS in large waterbodies like Lake Ontario or Lake Simcoe, these lakes have such high fish populations that the overall fish community does not appear to be too adversely  affected. However if VHS was transferred from Lake Simcoe to a small waterbody in northern Ontario ... and a thousand fish died because they were susceptible to the Virus ... then I am sure that could drastically affect the smaller fish population," concluded Meadows.

Boaters make certain to:
• Inspect your boat for any visible aquatic hitchhikers. For example look for hanging weeds and zebra mussels from trailers and boats
• Clean boat and trailer of those hitchhikers … remove weeds and even mud etc. Clean and disinfect live wells with one part bleach to tens parts water. Rinse with clean water afterwards.
• Drain water from the lower unit of your motor by lowering the outboard when the boat is pulled out of the water at the ramp. Routinely pull your drain plug while you're at the back of the boat. Automatic or manual bilge pumps do not remove all water from your boat pulling your plug is important if you don't want to bring new, potentially infected lake water to the next lake you visit.  Allow all water to drain from your boat and motor.

Anglers who use live baitfish caught or purchased from the Lake Simcoe area should be certain to only use their bait locally and not to bring their minnows to another lake.

The Aurora Bassmasters pride themselves on being "More than just Another Fishing Club." They perform several conservation projects every year in the Lake Simcoe watershed.  Their five year Lake Simcoe Bass Tagging Research Project, in co-operation with the Ministry of Natural Resources won the prestigious Berkley Conservation Award in 2008. The $2,000 that the club won for this national (open to thousands of Bassmaster clubs in the US and Canada) was used to pay for ageing of bass that the club sampled and tagged at catch and release tournaments between 2006 and 2010.

With bass season opening this Saturday June 23rd, anglers are reminded that if they catch a tagged bass in Lake's Simcoe or Couchiching to write the numbers of the tags and phone number on a piece of paper. Take a quick measurement or weight and then carefully live release the bass so it can continue to be part of the research program. They can then call the MNR number on the tag and report details of their catch.

For more information on the Aurora Bassmasters, please visit:www.aurorabass.com
For more information on VHS, please check out: www.mnr.gov.on.ca  and type in VHS under the search engine.

Media notice prepared by:
Wil Wegman, Conservation Director Aurora Bassmasters