GENTRY -- Young anglers hoping to win a prize for the biggest fish or the most fish caught at the annual fishing derby in Flint Creek Park, an event organized by the Gentry Chamber of Commerce, were disappointed on Saturday morning to learn that the event had been canceled or postponed until a later date due to the aggregation of pond moss on the spring-fed pond in the park.
While it's technically not a moss but green algae of the filamentous type, its growth in the pond makes fishing unpleasant and challenging, and too much of the algae can prove harmful to fish populations.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation website, "filamentous algae occur as fine green threads and form floating mats that move around the pond when windy. This type of algae is also commonly found attached to rocks, submerged trees, other aquatic plants and boat docks. Filamentous algae are sometimes referred to as 'pond moss' or 'pond scum.'"
The website goes on to say that "filamentous algae and macrophytic algae often form dense growths that make fishing, swimming and other recreational uses nearly impossible. Total coverage can restrict sunlight penetration and limit the production of oxygen and food items necessary for good fish growth."
Such algae growth is common on ponds and lakes in the region.
Though the exact reason for the algae problem in the pond in Gentry's park is unknown, the MDC website states that "algae problems are usually caused by an overabundance of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) in the pond. From the moment a pond is built, it becomes a settling basin for nutrients washing in from the land that drains into it (the pond's watershed). The older a pond gets, the more nutrients it has accumulated and the more susceptible it is to algae problems. Runoff from fertilized fields, lawns, pastures, feedlots, septic tanks and leach fields accelerate nutrient loading and algae growth in the pond."
While there are chemical treatments for algae growth, the Gentry pond's runoff into Flint Creek makes any chemical treatment a problem. Some rake or seine ponds to remove the scum but the algae removal is temporary at best.
According to the Gentry Chamber's message at the park, as well as a post on Facebook, the fishing derby will be rescheduled if possible. Whether that happens will likely depend on the algae growth on the pond over the summer months.