STORM LAKE, Iowa – To help reduce the spread of rusty crayfish to other waterbodies in Iowa, licensed bait dealers can no longer harvest any crayfish species from Storm Lake. Crayfish collected for bait from Storm Lake for personal use can only be used in Storm Lake and cannot be transported live from the lake.
Rusty crayfish are listed as a prohibited aquatic invasive species in Iowa. They are spreading to lakes, rivers, and streams in the Midwest, likely by anglers releasing them from bait buckets, hobbyists releasing them from aquariums and commercial harvest activities. Rusty crayfish are more aggressive and can displace native crayfish, can harm fish populations by eating their eggs and young and can graze on and eliminate aquatic plants.
Storm Lake (Buena Vista County) was confirmed to be infested with rusty crayfish in 2019. Before this occurrence, the abundance and distribution of rusty crayfish in Iowa was only known from small numbers of individuals collected in sections of the Maquoketa, Middle Iowa, Upper Cedar, and Upper Wapsipinicon rivers in eastern Iowa.