Zebra Mussels in Bull Shoals Lake

November 1, 2023
Fishing Industry News
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zebra mussels

The first documented occurrence of Zebra Mussels in north-central Arkansas was in 2007 in Bull Shoals Lake near Lead Hill. The high fluctuations in water level over the last couple of years on Bull Shoals seem to have kept Zebra Mussel numbers from exploding there. However, there have been Zebra Mussel-related problems documented in other waterbodies which include the invasive mollusk smothering out native mussels, clogging intake pipes, and attaching to boats and docks in numbers so dense the equipment is made inoperable. Additionally, Zebra Mussels compete with young fish and shad by filtering out the microscopic food that they eat. 

Although Zebra Mussels are found in Bull Shoals Lake, there has been no official documentation in Beaver, Greers Ferry, Norfork, or Table Rock Lakes. Biologists in north-central Arkansas have deployed Zebra Mussel detection plates at eight marinas near popular boat ramps on Norfork Lake since 2018 to monitor for a potential Zebra Mussel infestation. These plates act as monitoring devices to detect if and when Zebra Mussels appear in a water body. Zebra Mussel samplers on Norfork Lake were recently checked and there were no mussels present.

To reduce the risk of transporting Zebra Mussels from infested waters such as Bull Shoals, remember to clean, drain, and dry your boat, motor, and trailer. Remember, it is required by law to remove drain plugs from your vessel at the boat ramp and allow all water to drain from the vessel. Boat owners should also wash their boats and trailers with high-pressure, hot water if possible. Finally, in addition to cleaning exterior surfaces, clean all live wells, bilge pumps, ballast tanks, and other areas that hold or pump water. Once completed, allow the boat and trailer to dry. These few steps will help ensure other water bodies don’t become infested with Zebra Mussels.

If you discover Zebra Mussels please contact the AGFC Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Program Coordinator (501-604-0485). Transport of Zebra Mussels in Arkansas is illegal and transporting them across state lines is a Federal offense. For more information on Zebra Mussels and other aquatic nuisance species found in Arkansas, check out the AGFC Aquatic Nuisance Species page on our website where you can find out what ANS have been observed in the state, find images and profile information on each species, and use the online ANS reporting tool to report an observed aquatic nuisance species.