The didymosphenia geminata algae that arrived in southwestern Pennsylvania last summer on the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle is icky and ugly, but it's uncertain how it will impact insect life and fish. At at Post-Gazette seminar Feb. 15 at the Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoors Show in Monroeville, Maryland Department of Natural Resources aquatic biologist Ron Klauda said that despite the invasive weed's 10-year presence in American fishing waters, there has not been a comprehensive scientific study of its impact on indigenous aquatic life.
"The mats get down in the rocks, but we don't know really how it effects benthic life [bottom dwelling plants and animals]," said Klauda, during a public interview at the Monroeville Convention Center. "We know that it's unusual in that the blooms are thickest in the early spring and fall -- not in the middle of summer like other aquatic weed growth -- and it doesn't grow uniformly. Some years it's worse than others, but we don't really know why."
Didymo is a nuisance, but is not toxic to humans. Klauda said blooms can grow from a single microscopic cell that can be transported in felt soles (legal in Pennsylvania), shoelaces, fish nets, ropes, boat hulls and just about anything
Anglers and boaters can help to slow the spread of didymo by cleaning boat hulls and wading boots on exiting the water. Diluted bleach or a saltwater solution will kill it but may corrode equipment.
"When I get home from wading, I put my boots in a laundry tub with warm soapy water," said Klauda. "By the time I'm done unloading the car, any invasives in there are dead."
Two nights last week on the Ohio River, Robert Wasileski III of Ingomar cleaned up on walleye when males 16 to 19 inches aggressively took shad-pattern jigs. The state Fish and Boat Commission reported that walleye were being caught on the Allegheny around Sharpsburg. Area fisheries manager Rick Lorson said that with water around 38 degrees, walleye and sauger were still in a pre-spawn mode but schooling near the mouths of larger tributaries. The walleye runs will begin in mid-March when the water reaches 50 degrees. Sauger run when water temperature passes 50.
Sometimes that dead stop at the end of the line isn't a snag. Many of the lunker trout caught in Neshannock Creek are placed there courtesy of Neshannock Creek Fly Shop. Owner Bob Shuey buys the adult whoppers from Fish and Boat with money raised from the shop's annual rod raffle. For details on the rod and how to chip in on the fish: 724-533-3212. Kids are invited to help during the state's annual pre-season Neshannock trout stocking at noon March 2 at the shop in Volant. The lunker trout stocking (up to 16-plus inches and 5-plus pounds) follows the raffle drawing at 1 p.m. March 9.
L.L. Bean's annual Spring Fishing Weekend at Ross Park Mall, March 15-17, will include fly fishing experts, Fish and Boat Commission exhibits, activities for kids and free workshops such as fly casting (10 a.m., 11 a.m. March 15-17, 412-318-1200 for reservations); Trout Unlimited (noon March 16); presentation tactics, flies and techniques for Pennsylvania trout streams (1 p.m. March 16); and fly tying lessons March 17.
The East Monongahela Sportsmen's Club will hold shoots April 7, May 5, June 2, July 7, Aug. 4 and Sept. 15. $10 adult, $5 youth, registration 8 a.m.-1 p.m. day of event. Details: 724-565-5176.