Antietam Fly Anglers Conservation News

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 This is a reminder of how this disease is spread. Felt bottom boots that are worn by almost all fly fisherman are one of the main ways that Didymo is spread. I talk to many fishermen that will visit multiple streams in one day or over a long weekend. This does not give the time needed for the boots to dry out enough to kill Didymo on the felt bottoms. To greatly reduce the risk of spreading Didymo we need to carry a five gallon bucket and a package of table salt and do the following things.

Before leaving a stream, scrub mud and debris off of boots and fishing gear.

Disinfect boots and equipment by scrubbing or soaking in 5 percent salt solution (2 cups of salt in 2.5 gallons of water) for one minute and then let dry completely.  You may also scrub equipment with dishwashing detergent and rinse well.

Allowing equipment to completely dry for at least 48 hours will also kill Didymo, but realize that felt bottoms of boots may require longer drying times.

Soak items in very hot water (140° F) will also help.

Intersex (Testicular Oocytes) in Smallmouth Bass
from the Potomac River and Selected Nearby Drainages

Fishers Please Be Prudent
We have two very different threats to our fishing water and what we do can make a very big difference. Both Whirling Disease (WD) and Didymosphenis geminate (Didymo) can be introduced into a stream by fishers. If we are not prudent about caring for our gear, we can transport the spores (Didymo) and parasites (Whirling Disease) from an infected stream to one that is clear of infestation. There is no way to determine if a stream is infected in the early stages of Didymo or if the WD parasite is present in the water.

Below is an excerpt from the Whirling Disease Initiative (

Carefully cleaning and drying all equipment is the best course of action to deal with all aquatic hitchhikers.
Recommended precautions that will help prevent not only the spread of whirling disease, but also other disease-causing organisms and aquatic pests include:

" Never transport live fish from one water body to another. (This is illegal in many states.)
" Obtain certified disease-free fish for any private fish stocking projects. " Do not use trout, whitefish, or salmon parts as cut bait.
" Dispose of fish entrails and skeletal parts properly.
Never discard fish parts in or near streams or rivers. Because an infected fish may harbor tens of thousands of myxospores, simply disposing of infected fish parts in a clean drainage could provide enough spores to start an infection. Do not discard fish parts in a kitchen disposal. Whirling disease myxospores can survive most wastewater treatment systems. Instead, discard in dry waste that would go to a landfill.
" Carefully clean all equipment before leaving a site, and allow it to dry. Rinse all mud and debris from equipment and wading gear, and drain water from boats before leaving an infected drainage. This is good practice for preventing transfer of other aquatic hitchhikers as well.

And from the Leah Elwell Conservation Coordinator, Federation of Fly Fishers

There are four easy steps you can take to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasives.
1. Remove all dirt, plants and other materials from your gear before you leave a body of water
2. Rinse your gear with clean water
3. Thoroughly dry your gear
4. Never transport plants or animals from one body of water to another.

It may be difficult to thoroughly dry your gear if you are traveling on vacation and moving from one stream to another so hear is an additional suggestion from Leah.

There are a few specific methods to clean for didymo: easy and relatively non-toxic. A 5% salt solution or dishwashing detergent. Soak and scrub all gear for at least one minute. Knowing specific cleaning products that target particular

species can be helpful, but the FFF feels that a general message of inspect, clean with water and dry can work as a more universal, and less confusing, message for everyone everywhere. When appropriate the specific cleaning agents can be stressed. I agree it could be tough to carry two sets of boots, but something to consider. Also, before you travel - communicating with the regional management agency could be a good way to learn what the issues are in the places you will be fishing."

The ball is in our court and we must do all we can to prevent the spread of aquatic invasives. Please take the time to follow the steps presented here and please spread the word!

John Brognard
Potomac Valley Fly Fishers

2007 Maryland Environment and Natural Resources Report.

Whirling Disease
Understanding Whirling Disease and what we can do to prevent spreading.

Didymo (Didymosphenis geminata)
Didymo is an invasive freshwater alga that can form massive blooms. Didymo can smother streambeds and adversely affect freshwater fish, plant and invertebrate species by depriving them of habitat ...

If you see pollution in the Potomac or its tributaries:

First call one of the numbers below, and then call, Potomac Riverkeeper:
at 301-POTOMAC(768-6622), or email to

Types of pollution; fish kills, algae blooms, hazardous materials and oil spills, public sewer breaks and over flows, sediment or dirt discharge, wetland impacts, etc.

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE): All pollution - Call 1 800-633-6101

West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR): All pollution - call 1 800-642-3074

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP): All Pollution call 1 866-255-5158

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality: All Pollution regular business hours call:
Northern Regional Office at 703-583-3800
Piedmont (Middle VA) Regional Office at 804-527-5020
Tidewater (Southern VA) Regional Office at 757-518-2000
After hours, holidays, weekends, call 804-897-6500 - Department of Emergency Management

District of Columbia: Sewer Leaks - WASA hot line at 202-612-3400 - have nearest street and cross street ready
Sediment/Dirt entering a storm drain from a construction site or a cement, truck washing into street or storm drain etc., call 202-535-2240- IDC Watershed protection and Compliance Branch Oil and hazardous Substances, call 202-724-9216 - DC Water Quality Division
After hours, weekends, and holidays, call the Mayor's hotline: 202-727-3636

Three million gallons of liquid cow manure!
For those who think that cows grazing in your favorite stream aren't really an environmental problem: "Three, yes, three million gallons of liquid cow manure gushed from a reservoir into New York's Black River in mid August 05. This is one-fourth the size of the 1989 oil spill of the Exxon Valdez. Thousands of fish were killed, and it will take years before the river is completely restored