The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 21, 2013

Ken Maurer's Inside Line column: Did you know about the didymo?


Daily Item

---- — Invasive species is a term that hunters and anglers come across from time to time. It is sort of self-explanatory, and with international trade, invasive species come from far and wide. They can also come from within the country, moving from one area to another, either by themselves through migration or carried by man in one way or another.

The latest locally found invasive species is didymo, commonly known as "rock snot," a type of algae. According to the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), didymo looks like it's common name, and sticks to rocks in stream bottoms. It was recently found in Pine Creek in Lycoming county.

It is doubtful that we'll ever know how it got there and, according to the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission, there is no immediate danger to humans. The real concern is that it could spread and have an impact on the stream, or be transferred to other streams.

State agencies have for years been warning people to clean their boats and boat trailers, especially if moving between different waterways. A pressure washer or car wash is a quick way to eliminate unwanted hitchhikers.

Maryland has gone as far as to ban felt-bottom waders. The felt takes quite a while to dry out, and an angler could easily and unknowingly drag some life forms from one stream or watershed to another.

If it is a good idea, we'll ban felt soles here in five or 10 years. We're a little slow on the trigger in this state. Wader manufacturers are well aware of the movement away from felt soles. They have come up with what they call "sticky rubber," which is supposed to have some of the traction of felt. Ceramic or steel studs imbedded in the sticky rubber also aid in traction. I haven't tried any of the newer sticky rubber soles yet, but I would imagine that they must work, especially with studs imbedded in the sole. Even with the newer soles, it's a good idea to completely dry or wash footwear when moving between waterways.

This is the time of the year to get some interesting photographs. Most of the spotted fawns are past their wobbly leg stage and getting around nicely. Young turkeys are growing fast and by now most of them can fly quite well, at least well enough to get up into the trees to avoid ground predators. What I haven't seen in a long time is a hen pheasant with a clutch of young. I'd like to think that somewhere in Pennsylvania there are some little ringnecks scurrying around. I've heard conflicting reports about the pheasant restoration areas, and I hope they catch on there. Some intense predator control would probably help, but it seems there is more interest in bringing back and protecting predators than there is in fostering the prey (game) species.

The river is finally looking pretty good. I recently had a pretty good morning on the river. Just don't keep the fish out of the water too long or they'll be baked, which was what I felt like after we got off the water.