If you haven’t forgotten to put in the drain plug before you launch, chances are that you know someone who has.
Consequences can range from aggravating--- fishing is delayed--- to catastrophic--- the boat sinks.
But did you know that pulling that plug when you exit the water also is important? That’s because of the threat posed to our fisheries by exotic mussels and other invasive aquatic species, which can hitchhike in water left in the boat. Once established in a new water body, they crowd out native species, smother fish habitat, and block intakes, endangering public water supplies.
As zebra and quagga mussels have spread into Minnesota, across Texas, and over the Rocky Mountains, the danger has become even more acute, and resource managers are taking action. For example, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recently approved a rule requiring anyone leaving or approaching public waters in 17 north Texas counties to drain their boats and is proposing that 28 additional north and central counties be added to the mandate.
In some places, forgetting to take out that plug is going to hit anglers and other boat owners in the pocketbook, as they are fined for violating the law. That’s how seriously resource managers are taking this threat.
But for a few bucks you can be pro-active to protect yourself, your boat, and the resource, courtesy of the Safe Launch Drain Plug Reminder System developed by Steve Colsher and Ray Haber.
It’s ingenious, but simple and easy to install. You just place a metal flex hook into the drain hole. The hook is attached to a lanyard with a split ring carabineer that easily attaches to one of the transom/trailer tie-down straps. When you disconnect the tie-downs, you can’t help but be reminded to remove the hook and insert the plug.
Conversely, when leaving the water, you will see the Safe Launch lanyard, which will remind you to remove the plug and insert the hook, which does not impede water drainage.
Colsher told Activist Angler that he originally came up with the idea as a way to remind himself to put in the plug on his own boat. “But as time went on, and we were looking into things, we began to see this as a safety product that could save people $500 or $600 if they forget to plug out the plug.”
It also can help prevent the spread of invasive species, which is why the Lake Havasu Marine Association is partnering with Safe Launch. It promotes Safe Launch as part of its “clean, drain and dry” program for boats, while the company donates a percentage of sales to the association.
“This is a model that I think will work well with other associations,” Colsher said. “It’s a win-win for both.”