Catch and release fishing is being practiced more commonly by fisherman these days, especially fly fisherman. Rather than keeping that trophy trout for mounting purposes many fisherman are photographing and measuring the length and girth of their prize catches and then releasing the fish to allow proliferation of that gene pool and to afford others the opportunity to experience similar exhilarating moments. Pictures/videos of those special moments accompanied by an artificial mount of the fish will provide decades of memories to recall and share with friends. Hopefully, with the number of people we see coming through Flymasters who are traveling out West this summer, there will be plenty of “trophy” moments to share with us as well!
Did you know however that you may be bringing back more that just your photos? Many western rivers have unfortunately been afflicted with tiny to microscopic invasive species of which the casual fisherman may not be aware. New Zealand mudsnails, Didymo (rocksnot) and Whirling disease may be present in many of those western rivers which you frequent. Other rivers may be contaminated and not known until long after their infestation. These infestations may directly impact fish reproduction and survival or compete with and displace critical food sources upon which trout rely. Since these organisms are so small to detection by the naked eye the fisherman can unknowingly become a vector allowing spread of these organisms from river to river and region to region.
For this reason it’s always a good idea to thoroughly clean your waders and boots with a mild detergent and and brush to remove as much of these contaminants as possible when moving from river to river. Although this certainly helps it is not necessarily effective in eliminating the spread of contaminants. More thorough measures of sanitization should be pursued when possible. Solutions of copper sulfate or benzethonium chloride have been shown to be effective in decontamination and prevention of spread by wading equipment. Formula 409 Degreaser Disinfectant and Sparquat 256 are other commercially available chemicals which have been shown effective in the prevention of spread of these problematic organisms.
Let’s do our part to minimize the risk of spread of these infestations to those waters upon which we enjoy spending quality time with our friends and families. Avoid the transportation and spread of these “aquatic hitch hikers” by taking the time to clean and decontaminate your wading equipment. For further information and “how to” instructions see the West Denver T.U. website (http://www.westdenvertu.org/Conservation.htm#in vasion).