Ed. Note: This article is written by Attorney Bob Brazil, our firm’s anglerphile, who first broadcast this information on “Law Matters”, our Wednesday show on Magic 97.7, on April 6, 2011.
Trout season begins in Vermont on April 9th this year, and there is one major change in the law that anglers should know about. Effective April 1, 2011, there is ban on the “use of external felt-soled waders and boots in the waters of Vermont”. Excepted from the ban are state and federal employees and emergency personnel “in the discharge of official duties”
Vermont joins several other states, including Alaska and Maryland, in banning the popular waders. New Hampshire has not imposed a ban as of this writing.
The reason? The ban seeks to avoid further spreading of invasive species, particularly “whirling disease”, a parasite that causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage in salmanoids, which can devastate a fish population. The ban also seeks to stop the spread of didymosphenia geminata algae— commonly referred to as “didymo” and less pleasantly but more descriptively named “rock snot”. The algae were first discovered in Connecticut River near Bloomfield Vermont in 2007, and has since been found in the White, Mad, and Gihon Rivers; as well as the East Branch of the Passumpsic River. This algae can be spread in a single drop of water; and it affects sources of food for fish such as mayflies, caddises and stoneflies. There is no proven method of eradication.
Felt is problematic because it is difficult to clean and disinfect, and the woven fibers create pockets where algae cells can live and be transported to other streams and lakes where the angler uses the waders. It should be noted that felt waders are banned for anyone using them in waters, including duck hunters.
If you are found to be using the waders, you will be assessed 5 points on your hunting/fishing license, and $130.00 fine. Since you lose your license if you are assessed 10 points or more, this infraction is serious.
Even though there is no legal requirement to do so, anglers should clean thoroughly their rubber soles, boat bottoms and other equipment, using detergent or bleach/water solution, to halt the spread of these two harmful species.
For more information, see the Vermont and Wildlife Department