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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Missouri 'Rock Snot' Trout Fishing Threat of 'didymo' Remember to 'Check, Clean, Dry'

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MDC to hold public forums on preventing invasive “rock snot”

Feb. 16, 2011
PHOTOS Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation
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JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will hold public open-house forums in March and April to help educate anglers and boaters about the dangers of “didymo” or “rock snot.” This invasive alga forms large, thick mats on the bottom of lakes and streams, smothering aquatic life vital to the food chain that supports many fish species, including trout. Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) has been found just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border in the White River.
According to MDC Fisheries Biologist Mark VanPatten, preventing the spread of this invasive species is critical to the health of Missouri’s lakes and streams. He added that recreational equipment such as boats, lifejackets, and fishing gear -- particularly waders -- are the most likely ways for Didymo to spread into Missouri.
“In addition to educating anglers and boaters about the threats of Didymo, we are considering potential regulation changes to prevent the spread of this invasive alga,” said VanPatten. “Public input in this process is very important.”
Public meetings will be held at or near the following fish hatcheries:
Montauk State Park: Searcy Building, Tuesday, March 15, 6 p.m.
Bennett Spring State Park: Hatchery Building, Monday, March 21, 6 p.m.
Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery – Lake Tanyecomo: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dewey Short Visitor Center at Table Rock Dam, Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m.
Roaring River State Park: Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, Thursday, April 7, 6 p.m.
Maramec Spring Park: James Memorial Library Meeting Room, 300 W. Scioto St. in St. James, Monday, April 11, 6 p.m.
To help reduce the spread of Didymo, remember, “Check. Clean. Dry.”
Check all gear and equipment and remove any visible algae. Do not dispose of algae by putting it down a drain or into bodies of water.
Clean all gear and equipment with a solution of 2-percent bleach, 5-percent saltwater, or dishwashing detergent. Allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least one minute. Soak all soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.
Dry all gear and equipment for at least 48 hours by exposing it to sunlight.
VanPatten added that replacing felt-soled waders with waders that have rubber or synthetic soles can also minimize the risk of spreading rock snot and other invasive species.
For more information about the meetings, contact VanPatten at 573-751-4115 ext. 3892 or mark.vanpatten@mdc.mo.gov.


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Trout fishing and the threat of rock snot

By Kathy Etling • Special to the Post-Dispatch St. Louis Post-Dispatch   
Sunday, February 20, 2011

A recent day of winter trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park, near Lebanon, Mo., proved to be a success on several levels. The weather was beautiful, the trout wanted to bite and the stream was filled with gregarious anglers, some of whom were eager to share their fishing secrets.
Jerry Crump, who once called St. Charles home, loves trout fishing so much that he retired to a spot almost within casting distance of the park. If Jerry isn't the most popular fisherman at Bennett, he has to be right up there. It's easy to see why. Not only is the angler easy to talk to, he is extremely knowledgeable. His fly boxes are full of nymphs, streamers and other furry, feathery offerings in bright or muted patterns. He's tied most of the flies himself, and some are his own personal creations. The Crumpster, for instance, as well as the Bedspread, made of a hard-to-find material and one of the angler's trout-catching favorites.
Jerry bestowed upon one envious angler a number of Crumpsters and a Bedspread to try at her leisure. The angler first tried the Bedspread and watched nearby trout go wild as the fly floated past. Sadly, there were no hook-ups, at least not until Crump waded into the current just downstream and started casting. In short order he'd caught and released three fish that had fallen victim to the cunningly simple Bedspread.
And that, as they say, is how one distinguishes an expert trout angler from a rank amateur.
Missouri's winter catch-and-release trout park season concluded Feb. 15.
Speaking of trout and the streams they inhabit, bistate anglers have yet another invasive aquatic species to worry about, that is, in addition to zebra mussels, Chinese mystery snails, rusty crayfish and New Zealand mud snails. That something is didymo — short for Didymosphenia geminata — also known as rock snot, and the worry arrives just in time for Missouri's trout season opener March 1.
Rock snot, as one might guess from its name, is bad news. It is an invasive alga — not "algae" because it is singular, one organism, and not plural — that forms a continuous, thick mat on the beds of lakes and streams. This mat looks like dense snot and smothers aquatic life while also fouling anglers' hooks and lines. Originally native to more northern latitudes of Europe, Asia and North America, didymo has recently been expanding into areas where it never before caused problems, including New Zealand, British Columbia and much of the American West. In South Dakota, biologists suspect didymo run amok contributed to the precipitous decline of several brown trout populations. Further to the east, didymo has been discovered in many of New England's classic trout streams to the dismay of the many anglers who make pilgrimages there.
Midwest anglers should be aware that didymo now has been discovered in Arkansas' White River, just to the south of the Missouri border. The White's once pristine gravel bars are "covered with didymo," according to Jeff Williams, Arkansas' trout program supervisor.
Arkansas' White River is a stream increasingly under siege, first from the threat of snakeheads, an invasive carnivorous fish that now inhabits a portion of the White River basin, and now from didymo. According to one New Zealand-based didymo expert, Dr. Barry Biggs, mats of didymo can make the adjoining water 'so alkaline that it could attack the delicate gills of fish.''
New Zealand biologists have been testing a chelated copper compound as an agent of didymo control with good results. The operative word, however, is control; so far nothing appears able to eradicate the alga completely.
Mark VanPatten, a fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that preventing didymo's spread is critical to the future health of Missouri's lakes and streams. He noted that the organism would most likely arrive via contaminated recreational equipment such as boats, lifejackets and fishing gear.
MDC is preparing a two-pronged response to the threat lurking just south of the state's border: 1. education and 2. potential regulation changes to prevent didymo's spread.
Anglers and boaters can help reduce the spread of didymo by remembering to "Check. Clean. Dry."
Check all gear and equipment and remove any visible algae. Do not dispose of algae by putting it down a drain or into bodies of water. 
Clean all gear and equipment with a solution of 2 percent bleach, 5 percent saltwater, or dishwashing detergent. Allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least one minute. Soak soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.
Dry all gear and equipment for at least 48 hours by exposing it to sunlight.
VanPatten said that replacing felt-soled waders with waders that have rubber or synthetic soles can also minimize the risk of spreading aquatic invasives such as rock snot.
One new feature at all four Missouri trout parks this year will be the presence of wader-wash stations where anglers can clean waders and other gear in a 5 percent salt solution prior to entering the streams.
READ MORE
 
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