Update on didymo


It was just about a year ago whenofficials from the Massachusetts Departments of Fish and Game  and Conservation and Recreation  informed residents of the presence of Didymosphenia geminata (didymo, a/k/a rock snot) ) in the Green River in Alford and Egremont.  That finding was the first confirmed occurrence in Massachusetts.

It has also been detected in NY, CT, VT and NH.  Fishermen wearing felt soled boots were blamed for its spread and some states banned their use.  Fishermen were angry at being forced to buy new boots that they didn’t trust.   They remembered the previous attempts at producing non-felt soles which didn’t work.   Nothing beats felt at gripping wet rocks.

In his update to the MA Fish & Wildlife Board, DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden reported that he went back to check on the didymo in the Green River late last summer and could hardly find any.   He informed the Board that didymo requires a set of environmental conditions:  cold, clear, oligotrophic type water, sunlight, and proper PH.  He feels that the key limiting factor seems to be reaction to phosphorous.  Didymo requires really low phosphorous levels and if you get above a certain level it goes away.  He speculated that there was a lot of water diluting conditions there as summer went on with reduced water levels and increased agricultural run-off.

Scientists knew that didymo was native to all of North America and already present in many streams.  What’s new are the blooms, and they believe the blooms are caused by a change in the environment — low levels of phosphorous in the water, which cause didymo to grow the long stalks that could become streambed-smothering mats. Turns out that Madden is right.


Of course we should continue to thoroughly disinfect and dry our boots.  But isn’t it ironic that  we have been doing our best to get the phosphorous out of our waters only to have the cleaner water foster the growth of didymo? *****

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will be holding a kid’s fishing derby at the lower pond next Saturday from 9 to 10:30 AM.     Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. *****

For various reasons I got a late start on fly fishing this year.  The first day of fly fishing for me is always a nostalgic trip into yesteryear.  I knew where I was going to fish, but had no idea of what hatches were on and what flies to use to imitate them.  Some of my friends had already been out fly fishing several times and had good ideas of what flies would work best.  I didn’t want to ask them because they would know that I was going fishing soon and would not want me to fish alone.  Not this day, for I already had a truckload of fishermen going with me…………people like Joe Areno, Charles Lahey, Ralph Shea, Bill White, Ted Giddings, Gordon Leeman, Al Les, and others.


Wait, you say, these folks have all passed beyond the river bend, some of them many years ago.  True, but their memories still linger and are with me to this day, especially the first day of fly fishing each season.  Their influence on me in the sport of fly fishing was great.


Each year on my first outing, I tote them along.  This year I fished with Joe Areno’s fly rod that he purchased in Japan during the Korean War.  The reel that I used was an old beat up Martin reel that Gordon Leeman (former game warden) fished with.  Some of the flies used were the late Bill White’s Brown Charm, which Ted Giddings passed on to me, Charlie Lahey’s Mad River Special, Lee Wulff’s flies (met him in North Adams when he was a guest speaker of the Hoosic Chapter of TU), the AuSable Wulff, tied up for me by Francis Betters, famous fly tyer and author, and others. .


Of all the people mentioned, no one had a more profound effect on me as Ralph Shea of Pittsfield.  He practiced catch and release long before it became popular.  It was he who taught me how to cast a fly and how to tie them.  It was with him that I caught my first trout on a fly out of the Westfield River in Bancroft (on a fly that he taught me to tie).


The last time I saw Al Les was fishing on the Williams River in West Stockbridge.  We fished together a short time that day.  He passed a few months later. (He was the first recipient of the Silvio O. Conte Sportsman of the Year Award).  I was so impressed with Joe Areno (another Sportsman of the Year award recipient) that I developed and named a fly after him.  I fished with Charlie Lahey many times and was elated when  he was inducted into the Freshwater Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.  He fly fished until he was nearly 102 years old.


The memories of these and other great fly fishermen were vivid and I sat down on a stream bank and reflected.     They had a lasting effect and were the reason why I took up the sport.  Because of them, I was able to enjoy a sport that I had hitherto never known.    For the last 35 or so years, it has provided me with great pleasure.


I never caught a fish that day, but so what.  We just enjoyed the clear blue spring sky, warm sun, and green pastures.  The memories of these sportsmen made for a very special day.

As previously mentioned, this happens once each year, in the spring and I look forward to it.  I so much enjoy their company. *****


Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.  Phone/fax:  (413) 637-1818



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