Winter Tip: Leave your Boots Outside = no Didymo

On December 19, 2012
Comments (5)

Frozen Boots Didymo

We finally got some snow here in the new Tenkara USA home of Boulder, CO. And, with it, some very cold weather. The low tonight is expected to be a chilling 5°F! Salt Lake City, where I was tenkara fishing yesterday, is expecting a low of 18°F. Pittsburgh, PA, will see 32°F, as will Harrisonburg, VA.

This cold front has come right when I started reading about the International Didymo Conference. And, since I was travelling and fishing, I was also thinking about the spread of this nasty and invasive species. Didymo, if you’re not yet familiar with it, is a type of algae, also known as “rock snot”, which can spread very quickly and cover rocks on streams and have significant impact on the ecological balance of our favorite waters. It looks like “wet toilet paper” (though not usually white, unless it is getting dry). Its spread is most commonly blamed on our fishing equipment with the most common culprit being wading boots as there are many nooks where the algae can penetrate and then spread (though other equipment such as waders can also help spread it). Felt sole boots, in particular, are seen as the big scapegoat for the spread of didymo since they can remain moist for a long time and the pores can host the microscopic algae. But make no mistake, rubber-soled boots can also carry the stuff.

Part of the reason for the Conference, which will happen in March, is to figure out how to best stop the spread of the stuff. There are lots of advisories out there but not yet a silver bullet. The consensus for how we can all help is to clear our equipment thoroughly before going from one stream to another. But, ask 10 anglers the best way to clean the equipment and you may well get 10 different answers. I know this because I have asked at least 10 anglers how they clean their gear. Here is a good list of options.

The advise I paid particular attention to came from Ralph and Lisa Cutter, well-renowned anglers and creators of the highly acclaimed Bugs of the Underworld. The Cutters possess what I consider some of the most insightful knowledge of aquatic life, and when they gave me their answer I listened: “freeze it”, they told me.

As with anything, if it is not convenient to do, many of us will slack off and not do our part. It turns out, freezing is not only a highly-effective method of cleaning your gear off didymo but it is also a very convenient way of taking care of this mandatory chore.

In the warmer months I carry a large plastic trash bag with my fishing gear; at the end of a day of fishing I throw my boots in the plastic bag and as soon as I get home the bag goes straight into my freezer. Pretty easy as I do not have to deal with cleaning solutions and the risk of missing some of the didymo (though it helps if you have a mostly empty, or large freezer). Since hearing this advise I have religiously incorporated this chore into my coming home ritual: jacket on the floor, waders in the first empty space I see in the garage, rod on the couch, and wading boots straight into the freezer.

Now that I’m living in “cold country”, and the temperatures are in the freezing territory I decided I’d just throw boots right outside for the night and let nature take care of it for me. If you haven’t done this and were recently fishing, do us all a favor: put your boots out for the night, or if you’re not lucky to be in freezing territory right now (sarcasm here!), just throw it in the freezer for the night. That should be easy enough.

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5 Responses to Winter Tip: Leave your Boots Outside = no Didymo

  1. David says:

    The trout streams where I live have a mix of streams with and without didymo within a short distance of one another. Most of the time I try to not mix fishing both types of streams on the same day. But some days to avoid a lot of extra driving I do end up fishing clear and contaminated streams. I try to use different gear as much as possible. Different rod, line and flies. Different shoes if possible, salt water spray on everything else. I have been rinsing off lines and spools and flies and placing them in the freezer over night. But I never thought of putting the larger gear in the freezer. I already get odd questions about why I had my line spools and fly box in the freezer.

    Freezing the gear is made for the lazy Tenkaraist because it’s really a lot less work than rinsing off the gear, then rinsing again with saltwater, letting it set a bit, then rinsing again with clear water. The salt seems to keep coming out of the cork forever. I’ll have to check the space in the freezer to see if there is room for the larger stuff which till now has only gotten the salt water treatment.

    The clear streams are so much prettier I would hate to see didymo get spread to them. But I fear many anglers pay little attention to the decontamination recommendations and eventually the didymo will spread to these other near by streams.

    Its really difficult to get the inside of the rods completely dry. But if rinsed, extended and dried with a cloth would there be much risk of damaging the rod sections or cork from freezing if not completely dry?

  2. TJ Ferreira says:

    Hmmm, honey, this steak is real tuff stuff. Tastes like leather. 😎

    Just don’t mix the meat and the wading boots when pulling from the freezer.

    Nice idea to freeze them. I see another product we can design now. A Tenkara Freezer. Every garage should have one to freeze our boots overnight. 😎


  3. Mark Cole says:


    I’ve been using Sparquat 256. this is a Germicidal Cleaner diluted 50/50 with water. This is what the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) uses. When moving from one body of water to another they spray their boots and waders with this solution allowing the items to remain wet with the solution for a minimum of 15 minutes. I carry a small spray bottle of this is the back of my car during the fishing season and use it when I move from one drainage to another. This will also kill whirling disease spores as well as other potentially nasty stuff.

    Welcome tothe cold country. several nights ago Leadville was dow to -18 degrees F.

  4. […] the end of your day on the water, freeze your boots to help stop the spread of invasive species, advises Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara […]

  5. […] the ever present battle to fight invasive species, Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA suggests leaving them out in the freezing weather. […]

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