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ILLINOIS Filamentous Algae


Otter17

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I fish a local small river in Illinois for smallmouth. But it has already this year become nearly impossible to fish it cause of Filamentous Algae. Strips of it are flowing downstream everywhere, and there isn’t a cast were I don’t get it caught on the line. 
 

Is there anything they can do environmentally to stop this from growing so bad. I heard that it may be caused by fertilizers. I never remember this stuff being in the river when I was a kid. 

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Idk if it's due to fertilizers. It's in all three rivers that make up the IL. You'd have to go back and look up historical accounts to see what the rivers were like when the settlers moved into the area. 

The only time(s) I've not seen it bad is when there is extended high water in the spring. By high water I mean the water stays dirty so less sunlight can penetrate. Little sun = little algae. At least that's been my experience over the years..

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Yes, algae blooms are caused primarily from excessive nutrients(fertilizer) and lack of current and/or lack of fresh water. As far as doing something about it...you live in IL. If the waterway is not privately managed, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

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4 minutes ago, Otter17 said:

Totally! I hear ya on that ☝️ 

You can try to contact the ILDNR and at least put in a complaint. Probably will fall on deaf ears as the ILDNR is under manned because it is under funded. The most effective way to treat algae blooms is to prevent the nutrients from entering the water. That's not going to happen as the farm lobbies have a lot more power than the conservationist lobbies in the state. 

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It’s crazy it’s the same way in Florida. But at a much higher level. You see all the reports of the Red tide in every canal from okeechobee to all the southern coasts. They know the biggest problem is from all the sugar cane fields and fertilizers flushing into the waterways, but there is too much money and political power behind the sugar cane fields. It is a major ecological problem down there. 

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50 minutes ago, Otter17 said:

It’s crazy it’s the same way in Florida. But at a much higher level. You see all the reports of the Red tide in every canal from okeechobee to all the southern coasts. They know the biggest problem is from all the sugar cane fields and fertilizers flushing into the waterways, but there is too much money and political power behind the sugar cane fields. It is a major ecological problem down there. 

I can't speak for anywhere else. Our state sucks when it comes to the duties of the DNR being fulfilled. My next door neighbor works for a private company that handles weed management. He's the guy that goes out in the jon boat and treats the water. There are multiple companies that manage vegetation on Illinois waterways under different contracts. Lots of politics involved.  

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1 hour ago, slonezp said:

The most effective way to treat algae blooms is to prevent the nutrients from entering the water. That's not going to happen as the farm lobbies have a lot more power than the conservationist lobbies in the state. 

Buffer strips can help. The previous governor here made them mandatory and at the time it was extremely unpopular in the agriculture industry because it prevented them from planting row crops right up to the waterway. Less crops means less yield means less profit.  Every stream, river, canal, and drainage ditch now has a buffer strip of native vegetation along both sides. Not only has it helped the water quality, but it has literally created hundreds more acres of habitat for wildlife.

 

I do agree that the agriculture lobby has tremendous power. Most of them think they are stewards of the land. A more correct term would be sewers of the land. The old saying in the farming industry was always “when the price goes down, you plant more. When it goes up…you plant more.”

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I’m very familiar with the river and the algae that Otter17 is talking about. It’s not like the stuff that floats in the back end of still water ponds or the slimy stuff that is often bright green. The filamentous algae is long stringy stuff that attaches to and covers the bottom of the river. It often breaks off and flows with the current in all of the water column. If you are wading in it, it will quickly wrap around your legs. Out of the water, it’s like heavy wool. If your lure hits the bottom, it gets covered. If you keep the lure off the bottom or even on top, the line catches the algae and while you reel in, your line slides through until lure gets covered. When it is flourishing, the river is all but unfishable. You might find only a few days out of the year when high water might flush the stuff out, but it will be back shortly. I’m sure that suburban development with manicured, fertilized lawns and the runoff into the river is a major contributor to the algae growth. It does seem that certain sections of the river (my favorite sections) have it worse than others. The northern sections of the river and the East and West branches that feed into it had much less than the lower stretches.

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Scott’s description is SPOT ON!

 

Its nasty stuff. It’s different than back in the day. The only thing I remember when I was younger was the regular long wavy weeds. They weren’t crazy thick or wool like(as Scott put it) like this stuff, nor would leave constant strands floating throughout the water column. 

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