Things were dead on the Mad River this June. I guess that should've been a tipoff.
The three-piece and I headed out a couple times during what should’ve been easy money affairs. We even spread it out to include some before dawn action. But we didn’t get a thing.
Probably, it's because I suck. But I hate getting skunked, even on a single cast. My kids can always tell when I'm sulking over coffee in the garage.
There was some guilty solace when I asked around at the local bacon counter and found that not even the worm dunkers had been getting anything. “Really quiet out there,” one said. “Weird.”
The Mad River isn’t on the list of America’s blue ribbon fisheries. It’s much loved, but it's a struggling waterway, a put-and-take shadow of the wild fishery that it used to be.
In this ghost town for trout, the tumbleweeds scored another victory yesterday as we learned that Didymo was found in the Mad River. An invasive algae known for rapid proliferation, Didymo has no known cure, and it essentially hangs the closed sign on the door for fishermen.
The painful irony for me is that earlier this spring, my group started working with Simms Fishing Products, one of the loudest voices in the battle against Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) like Didymo. As ANS has spread from New Zealand to the Chesapeake, we’ve been trying to help Simms spread the word about the importance of checking your gear, cleaning it every time, and even investing in some ANS-resistant wading boots (ie, no felt).
I know the Mad isn’t the Madison or the Deschutes. It’s barely even a Boulder Creek. But as ANS knocks the legs out from under third world waterways, it’s just a matter of time before it steps on the throat of your own favorite river.
The arrival of ANS in minor waterways is not minor news. It's a wake-up call.