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Another Day County lake infested with zebra mussels, fishermen plan to adjust

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South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (GF&P) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Blue Dog Lake near Webster.

Zebra mussels are tiny, invasive mollusks. When they invade a reservoir, they ruin infrastructure and limit the success of popular sport fish like walleye — a fish that drives the Day County tourism industry.

Doug Johnson owns the Sportsman's Cove, a popular bait shop in Day County. He said the Webster community and fishermen traveling to the area will have to adjust to the new reality.

"I think a lot of us accept it as reality and see it as a change coming in our environment. An unwelcome change, but a change that we're just going to have to accept and deal with," Johnson said.

That includes the way anglers fish.

"You might be in a situation where you're gonna have a poor daytime bite because of clear water and it be more low light fishing," Johnson said.

That's because zebra mussels make water clear, allowing the sun to break through — which walleye don't like, but weeds love.

Blue Dog is now the third Day County lake, including Pickerel and Enemy Swim lakes, to have a confirmed zebra mussel infestation according to GF&P.

To prevent further spread of the invasive species, officials say boaters should clean, drain and dry watercraft and trailers of all plants, mud, and water after being on a lake. The department says zebra mussels can survive up to 30 days out of water.

Because newly formed mussels can be so small, GF&P encourages boaters to feel their watercraft for any roughness which may indicate mussels have attached themselves.

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Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.