Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Scared Straight

The Farmington River is a beautiful stream.World class. Blue Ribbon. Competes annually with the Housatonic as the prettiest gal at the Connecticut Trout Stream Pageant (Large River Category).

The Farmington?
(I'm sure I've violated someone's
copyright by posting this. Apologies.)
And now she has a big honking zit on the tip of her nose. And it ain't going away. Could this beauty turn into a witch? (Not Glinda, the other one)

I'm talking, of course, about the Didymo infection in the Farmington.

How did Didymo come to the Farmington? Well, look in the mirror. It most likely was one of us. Sure it could have been a kayaker. Or one of those dudes/dudettes on a tube. Or Al Qaeda. But I doubt terrorists are tubing the Esopus in the morning and then turning around and tubing the Farmington that afternoon or the next day. Or any day.

My bet is it was a fisherman, perhaps even a fly fisherman, who came from another state or returned home from another water with the alga on their boots or reel and, voila, the Farmington has a special gift.

Worst case scenario from
from New Zealand
(photo from Biosecurity New Zealand)

I gave up felt last year so the concern about drying the felt is off my plate. But I am researching all the "Check. Clean. Dry." methods out there. I'm most likely going with a spray bottle with 5% Dishwasher solution to use streamside and then the hot water/5% solution soak at home followed by the intensive drying in the garage. It gets terribly hot in there during the spring and summer so it's my own alga killing kiln.

I'm also going to dig out the "old" waders and they're going to be my small stream waders so that I don't inadvertently infect some small jewel that I fish occasionally.

But is that really a safe strategy? If I start in a stream I think is clean and am wearing waders that only fish in that stream can I safely assume that those waders can go to some other small stream jewel without being cleaned? Do I really know they're not infected with some awful alga or snail or whatever?

To be safe, the assumption really has to be that all streams are infected and that every trip is an opportunity to infect another stream. Paranoia is the only acceptable state when it comes to combating the spread of these invasives.

I recall one day when I fished the Willowemoc River (an allegedly safe river and my visit probably predated the Didymo problem in that region. Yes, that's guilt speaking.) in the morning and the Housatonic River in the afternoon. I have no doubt that I'm not the first person to do that. But could I be one of those vectors of infection? You bet.

So, I'm going to start spending time cleaning gear when I've fished. Fortunately, I fish somewhat rarely so my gear tends to dry fully between outings. But fully drying may not always be possible. Especially when a buddy calls on short notice about a great hatch. So, cleaning will be a key part of my fishing habits.

Check. Clean. Dry.


  1. Perhaps barring access is the only responsible action. Notwithstanding efforts to spread the check, clean, and dry mantra, what % of anglers should we expect to put this into practice? I'm not sure even a majority will. So, should the authorities bar access? They won't, of course. Efforts to prevent introduction were negligible. But perhaps this is the only responsible way to limit Didymo's spread, within and beyond the Farmington?

  2. Tough call. Too many folks depend on the Farmy for their livelihood to close it thought I do see the appeal. With low compliance on Cleaning (assuming folks are generally lazy) then our best hope is that they don't fish all that much and their equipment dries between trips.