The Stream Doctor

May 16th, 2005

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. Can trout re-grow the slime/mucous layer that fishermen often wipe off with dry hands or poor quality nets?

A. Yes, the mucous is secreted from living cells and can be replaced.

This mucous layer serves the fish three ways: (1) as a lubricant to aid passage through the water, (2) to protect the skin from bacteria, fungi, or other parasitic organisms, and (3) to keep the fish "water-tight" and help control movement of chemicals through the skin.

Incidentally, the effect of removal of the slime by anglers is controversial. One test, using trout caught with flies, separated half of them handled with wet hands and half with dry hands; survival was no different between the two groups. It is thought by some that greater removal of slime by handling with dry hands was counterbalanced by the fact that these fish were more easily handled and returned to the water quicker and with less trauma. ~ Bert

If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
105 W. Cherokee Dr.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: 970-577-1584

The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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