Alaska Freshwater Fishing Ban on Felt Soled Waders in 2012

Alaska appears to be the first state to adopt a statewide ban of felt-soled waders in fishing streams. The state Board of Fisheries adopted the ban during the board’s spring meeting and it will take effect in January 2012.
The story of the ban—meant to stop invasive diseases, snails and other tiny yucky things—took off like wildfire through the network of wired outdoorsy types on the Internet.
The state was congratulated by, among others, Trout Unlimited and the Montana-based Whirling Disease Foundation. (It’s a disease spread by a microscopic parasite. It kills juvenile salmon and trout. Older fish can survive, but have been seen swimming “in an uncontrolled whirling motion” according to one Montana-based education site about the disease.)
Felt-soled waders are known to spread whirling disease and other stuff that makes fish sick. But the Department of Fish and Game stayed neutral on the ban, without saying why, in a staff report to the board. That might be because biologists suspect any fishing gear could be carrying a bunch of stuff that hurts fish. Here’s an excerpt from the report: “Although felt-soled shoes have been identified as one of the vectors for introducing invasive species, all equipment used in infested waters is a potential vector…”
In other words: If it’s been wet, it could have tiny fish-killing cooties.
The report also notes that protecting Alaska waters from invasive species “cannot be accomplished completely” just by banning a shoe.
The Board’s decision also delays a regional ban in Southeast Alaska, where fishermen would have had to comply by 2011 under a previous Board decision. The ban only applies to people fishing in freshwater bodies and the board only regulates fishing. Department of Fish and Game managers have said they would adopt policies preventing field biologists from wearing felt-soled waders, too, according to the board support office at Fish and Game.

Alaska Fisheries State Board is slated to make Alaska the first state to  ban  felt-soled waders in fishing streams statewide. During the boards spring meeting it was decided to initiate the ban starting in January 2012.

Microorganisms and other contaminates are spread by Felt-soled waders and in the right circumstances makes fish sick. While it is suspected that any fishing gear that is transported wet or reintroduced into a various bodies of water could potentially contaminate untainted streams  felt-soled shoes have been identified as one of the vectors for introducing invasive species.

The Alaska Fishing Board’s decision delays a previously set regional ban in Southeast Alaska, that would have eliminated felt soled waders by 2011 under a previous Board decision. Rest assured that the ban on felt soled waders only applies to freshwater lakes and streams and not saltwater bodies.

Overall this is a positive win for the Alaska Fishing environment in that it is minimally invasive to the fishing experience and also keeps the contamination of the pristine freshwater bodies out and keeping the Salmon and Trout we love to fish safe.


  1. Jay Hunt says

    Fishing is a nice sport and it is a good past time too. I enjoy fishing specially during weekends..;’

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