Do not pick up hitchhikers. Here we are talking about aquatic nuisance species. There is a real invasion occurring all over the United States and it is primarily spread by people, especially fishers, boaters, hikers, and anyone recreating from one body of water to another. All equipment that has touched the water or shore should be cleaned before leaving that water area; then it is vitally important to thoroughly scrub that equipment at home with disinfectant before using it again elsewhere.
Here is a list of possible aquatic diseases or invasive species: Didymo (rock snot), gill lice, whirling disease in trout, New Zealand mud snail, quagga mussels, zebra mussels, hydrilla, and purple loosestrife. Many of these are already in some Tennessee waters and all are nearby.
This is the recommended cleaning procedure for footwear, waders, lures, tackle, and anything that will touch the water, preferably done before leaving your home: Pressure wash or scrub every speck of mud, plants and debris from the items; soak them in a hot, five-percent solution of chlorine bleach for 10 minutes; thoroughly dry the items. Exposure to sunlight for eight hours is a bonus. For some species another bonus is to freeze the items for at least six hours.
An alternative to the chlorine bleach is a DuPont viricide disinfectant called “Virkon”. Freezing temperatures will kill the New Zealand mud snail, but I am not sure what else it kills. For much more on preventing the spread of invasive species, go to www.nature.nps.gov/biology/invasivespecies/.