Some fishing boots banned in Vt.
New Haven, Vermont - August 25, 2010

Fishermen will need to be prepared in a new way when the season begins next April.

"Until the beginning of the April 11 trout season these are still legal," said John Synnott of Stream & Brook Fishing Tours.

Vermont has passed a law banning felt-soled boots and waders. Many anglers use boots with felt bottoms to keep their footing on slippery rocks in the river. The problem is that the porous material can carry invasive species such as didymo to other waterways.

"There's a number of invasive species that are in the sediment and when you walk on these spongy, felt-soled waders, you absorb that sediment and when you go someplace else they discharge that," said Leslie Matthews of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Vermont is only the second state-- following Alaska-- to pass this type of bill.

"Vermont is out in front on this because we're a state that cares a lot about the protection of our natural resources," Matthews said.

The alternative to felt is rubber-soled boots which some say don't grip as well.

"They take a little getting used to whereas felt you can walk right in," Synnott said.

Fishing guide John Synnott will have the expense of replacing all of his boots. But he's more concerned about his clients' safety.

"I think there'll be more slips," he said. "I'm a little nervous for my clientele; I'll take it a lot slower."

But Synnott thinks it will just be a matter of time for people to adjust to the rubber soles.

"It just takes some getting used to," he said. "You're going to slip a little bit more just be cautious, know what you're doing. Don't put yourself in a situation where you relying only on the traction of your boots to keep you from floating downstream."

Supporters of the change say it's worth losing a little traction to help protect rivers.

"Preventing invasive species is almost a probability game, we want to reduce the probability that we are moving things around," Matthews said.

"Whatever we can do to stop the spread of things like this is going to make a difference, not just for guides or tourism but for the streams themselves," Synnott said.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News