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  • Monday, April 27, 2009

    Snails Attacking California

    they are spreading
    like wildfire in montana
    the infestation has begun to take it's toll
    .. The Golden State, named after a beautiful black queen, and filled with Audi fish-cars is experiencing a resurgence of the New Zealand Mud Snail.
    .. The little mollusks are marching, (with just one foot each,) up the coast at a rapid rate and have infiltrated the rivers beyond the Oregon border. They eat the food that the bugs your fish need eat. How cruel is that?
    .. The Malibu Creek Watershed Council posted a Public Service Announcement on YouTube in 2007 (Spanish version HERE,) for all to see..
    .. The friendly NPS Ranger in the English version seems almost delighted at the prospects of more snails stealing more food from the streams and rivers of Califia's Realm. The Spanish version seems a bit more urgent.
    .. Mud snails have spread rapidly since their discovery near Hagerman, Idaho in 1995. They are in Yellowstone National Park and are a growing threat to our fisheries throughout the west.
    .. There are now two morphs in the western United States and fisher folk should be able to identify both forms. They should also be able to distinguish them from other resident and native snails. It's far easier than mayfly identification and better for your rivers as well.
    .. Montana State University has a research program and maintains a website for information about the crusty critter. It is the best online source for information about the mollusk.
    .. The maps are most interesting and suggest that this threat will continue despite our best efforts. There are now over 1500 recorded locations - and the data base hasn't been updated since January.
    .. The Greater Montana "dot map" is interesting: the watershed map is frightening - but only if you fish in the indicated areas.
    .. The areal spread of snails in Calfia's Queendom is a bit more sobering. How long before there's no food for the queen's fishes?
    .. If you are planning a trout fishing trip in the western United States, chances are you will be in mud snail territory. It might be useful to ask your guide or outfitter about the precautions they take to avoid the spread of these little gobblers.
    .. A kind gesture might be to help clean the gear: boat, oars, nets, boots, waders, trailer, etc. Consider it a part of the tip you give them. Will they accept your offer? What is the guide's schedule like? What is your schedule? How much time do you spend each day inspecting? How much time do you spend fishing in infected waters? Food for thought - food for snails!
    .. In the time honored flurry of finding the hatch and then fishing it do you change foot gear when you change streams? Do you have gear for each stream? Do you dash to the pub and hope the mud dries overnight? Are you too busy to take the precautions? What will your grandchildren say? Have none - don't care!.. Why talk about Califia's Queendom on a Yellowstone Blog? Because the California Department of Fish & Game still has the best research and guidelines for controlling the spread of mud snails on fishing and wading gear. Read about it HERE (PDF). And, Martha, because the file is hosted on the MSU computers. And, of course, because the 'mudsnail' pages on the California sites refer us to the MSU site, [ #1, #2.]
    .. Mud snails are crafty critters and hide very well. Just because you've given up felt soles is no reason to believe that you are "clean." There are several methods of cleaning mentioned in the California PDF - some will destroy your gear along with the snails. Choose your cleaning method carefully.
    .. Ask your guide, before you book your trip, what cleaning method is preferred for snail abatement. Ask about why the chosen method was chosen. Ask about the other methods not used.
    .. Ask the local fly shops how they store their cleaning solutions and if they are fresh. Ask them where the cleaning stations are on the rivers in the area. Ask them where you can procure the ingredients for making your own cleaning solutions locally.
    .. If you give a damn read the PDF from California and see if the methods you are using are successful or just for show. If you need additional information check out the California Mud Snail Warning Site.
    .. Time for a late breakfast and journey into wonderland. A little snow is present but so are the very moderate spring temperatures.
    .. Digestion of S.O.S. is aided by a gentle drive along some of our glory waters - and vistas without snail spreading fisher folk.
    .. We use wheat bread because the neighbors say it's healthy. We use butter and buttermilk because the flavor is better. We use two jars of dried beef because then you can see it. We add just a bit of nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce for the papillae on the sides of our tongue. We made it yesterday and heated it up today because that's the way they served it to us in the old days. Maybe there will be some left for tomorrow.