With the recent closure of the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone National Park to Billings due to PKD (Proliferative Kidney Disease) to ALL activities, anglers, boaters and outdoors enthusiasts need to remember as standard practice that all fishing/boating/wading equipment should be cleaned, drained and dried before going to another water body in order to prevent the spread of these diseases.
There are many diseases or invasive species that hitch rides from water body to water body in drift boats, nets, anchor ropes and other angling necessities so please take 10 minutes after your next outing to make sure to do the following:
1. Remove all water, moss and debris from your watercraft immediate after using it. Spray your boat/paddleboard and all your wet gear with a mixture of bleach water (50/50) as this will help kill anything that is super hardy. Then dry it out – especially that nasty anchor rope. In the West, that is not hard as you simply put it out in the sun and wind for a couple hours. Presto – done.
2. Waders and wading boots should be washed down in a secure area (one that doesn’t lead to a stream or other water body – use a carwash or your sink at the hotel, fly shop or your house) and spray them with the 50/50 mixture of bleach. Don’t worry, the bleach will not harm your gear.
3. When transporting a boat or any other watercraft from state to state make sure to know the law about getting them inspected. In Wyoming, any watercraft that leaves the state for ANY REASON must be inspected and/or decontaminated upon reentry into the State by a certified person or a Game & Fish employee. This is a State of Wyoming law so please take it seriously.
These diseases are a clear threat to not only our sport but also the economies in the West. It is imperative that we, the anglers, do our part to stop the spread of the invasive species and diseases. The future of the Yellowstone is not known right now but the damage has already begun as tens of thousands of Whitefish are dead, reports of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout being affected are starting to come out and entire communities along the corridor of the famed river are being decimated due to the economic impact of the river closures. Guides have cancelled the entire fall season, fly shops are thinking about closing and hotels/restaurants/gas stations are taking a beating. This could just as easily been the Green, Platte or the Big Horn and perhaps, next time it will be. Take invasive species and water carried diseases seriously and treat the resources of Wyoming with care. Remember, Wyoming is just one town with really long streets; we are in this together.