Didymo in Big Pine Creek, Pennsylvania

From an e-mail sent on July 10th by Dr. Mel Zimmerman at Lycoming College in my home town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania:

Attached is a picture we took this morning from a sample above Waterville – coming to a watershed near you.

Announcement:

First record of the invasive diatom Didymosphenia geminata in the Pine Creek watershed, Lycoming County Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Biologists have, as a result of routine monitoring, detected the presence of the invasive diatom Didymosphenia geminata, also known as Didymo, in the Pine Creek watershed, Lycoming County PA.  Representative specimens were sent to The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University where Dr. Marina Potapova confirmed DEP’s identification.

Living Didymo diatoms were obtained on June 18, 2013 from Pine Creek at a location upstream of Waterville in the vicinity of the Hamilton Bottom Canoe Access Area; Lycoming County.  This represents the first evidence of this invasive diatom in this watershed.  In fact, prior to this discovery no Didymosphenia geminata diatoms were known by DEP to exist in Pennsylvania waters except at verified infestations sites in the Youghiogheny River and the West Brach / mainstem of the Delaware Rivers. 

All Water Quality professionals (and ALL anglers) should take precautions against spreading Didymo by properly cleaning and disinfecting aquatic gear prior to working in other waters. For more information, please visit PA Fish & Boat Commission website for a fact sheet and further guidance at:

http://www.fishandboat.com/water/habitat/ans/didymo/faq_didymo.htm

You are encouraged to forward this notice to your Agency co-workers, fellow aquatic biologists and other Water Quality professionals. (and your fishing friends).

Tony Shaw | Water Pollution Biologist IV | Chief, Monitoring Section
Environmental Protection | Point & Non-Point Source Management
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17105-8774
Phone: 717.787.5017 | Fax: 717.772.3249
www.depweb.state.pa.us

Didymo - aka Rock Snot confirmed in Big Pine Crek,Pennsylvania, above Waterville. This is bad news.

Didymo – aka Rock Snot confirmed in Big Pine Creek, Pennsylvania, above Waterville. This is bad news.

Rock snot can basically take over the stream bottom, when it colonizes an area, there is room for nothing else to live. It can obliterate the environment where invertebrates live by covering it up. When trout spawn, the female clears a redd, but by the time the eggs hatch, if didymo is nearby, it will have recolonized the redd and the fry will be unable to escape. But, by that time, the eggs will have been smothered anyway.

Anglers and everyone using Big Pine Creek are strongly urged to take the necessary precautions to keep this from spreading. However, the pessimist in me, knowing there will be people visiting Pine Creek that are unaware of the presence of didymo, will most likely unknowingly carry it to other streams in the area. Some of the best trout streams in Pennsylvania – Big Fishing Creek, Spring Creek, Penn’s Creek, Slate Run, Little Juniata River, are all at risk. Please be extremely careful. Guess we’re going to have to start carrying Clorox and a bucket or large dishpan in our cars so we can disinfect our wading shoes and the neoprene feet on our waders when we fish different streams in the same day.

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Black Witch – Unknown Austin S. Hogan Original Pattern

Last winter, around February I suppose, a friend from Maine, Lance Allaire, sent me a photo of an unknown streamer fly tied by Austin Hogan. Lance asked me if I knew the pattern, but I did not. In fact I’d never seen it before. I checked several sources but came up empty-handed. He sent it to me thinking I may be able to help. The long story made short is this: I finally thought that Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts, would be the best person to ask the question of the origin of this unknown streamer. Mike was mentored by Austin Hogan in the late 1960’s, and Mike knows more about Carrie Stevens and Austin Hogan, and many other streamer tiers, both living and dead, of the New England states than probably anyone else alive. Mike thought the pattern was called the Black Witch. I came up with nothing else in a name search, except for some fly pattern of that name in England that is much newer in origin than 1973, as this fly is dated. So I give credibility to Hogan’s Black Witch.

I wanted to tie this fly, and in asking Lance via e-mail one day about the dressing of this pattern, since from the photo he sent me I could not ascertain the presence or content of tail, tag, body, and ribbing, if in fact all these components were present on the fly. I requested if he could check the fly out for me, but Lance did something even better. “How about I send the fly to you?” Lance asked me in his e-mail reply.

“Perfect!” I replied. So I finally got around to tying the pattern a few weeks back, and today I photographed the Black Witch, both Austin’s fly and mine as well, separately and together. Here is the Black Witch:

Black Witch streamer fly -

Black Witch streamer fly – originated and tied by Austin S. Hogan, formerly of Fultonville, New York. The hook is a #6 – Mustad 94720 8x long streamer. The dark stain is where scotch tape was used over the bend of the hook to secure the fly in place. The adhesive of course, degraded over time. Austin’s original signature and date can be seen. The date is 1973, forty years ago.

Black Witch streamers -

Black Witch streamers – above by Austin S. Hogan, originator, and Don Bastian. My streamer is on a Mustad size #4 – 94720 8x long. In tying my first replica of Hogan’s pattern, I wanted to use the same manufacture of hook as his original.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 - 94720 8x long.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 – 94720 8x long.

Black Witch

Hook: Standard streamer hook, 6x to 8x long, sizes #2 to #8

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #100 Black

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Underbelly: Four to six strands of peacock herl, then white bucktail

Throat: Orange hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Lemon wood duck flank featheras

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black

I assembled this fly in authentic Rangeley style, cementing the hackles, shoulder, and cheeks together, and I also layered the throat in sections, starting well behind the head as Carrie Stevens did. It was Austin S. Hogan who first deconstructed some of Carrie Stevens flies to see how they were made. He made extensive notes and diagrams of Mrs. Stevens’ methods. Hogan was the first curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. Much of Hogan’s personal collection of fly fishing memorabilia is stored there.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch - tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch – tied by Don Bastian.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used clearPro Lak cement, several coats, and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used several coats of clear Pro Lak cement and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

The Black Witch is similar to another of Hogan’s patterns, the Grizzly Prince, except that pattern has an orange tail, and grizzly hackles over the white, but the lower barbs of the grizzly hackles are stripped off on that pattern. That was one of Hogans rather unique techniques, as also expressed on his Black and White Streamer. See Joseph D.  Bates, Jr., book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Hogan created about a dozen original streamer patterns. They are all listed in the 1996 edition of Bates book.