My canoe still had a lot of slime on it from the Boise River. Or was it the Salmon River near Stanley? Maybe it was the Snake River, which gets really slimy.
Anyway, the slime was dried and dull gray and had been there since last fall.
When the technician at the invasive species check station near Marsing ran his hand across it, he asked where the canoe had been last.
I couldn't remember. It was our first canoe outing of the spring. The canoe had been in the garage all winter.
The technician and an Owyhee County sheriff's deputy checked over the canoe, took some notes, looked at my current Idaho Invasive Species Fund Sticker and let us go on our way for a day of paddling in Oregon. The station is at the intersection of U.S. 95 and Idaho 55.
Boat check stations are opening across Idaho.
The Idaho Department of Agriculture's website on the Invasive Species Council says the agency conducted 42,348 inspections in 2012 and found 57 boats fouled with quagga or zebra mussels.
If you're a nonmotorized boater, better get your current sticker. They are available at boating shops throughout the state. In the Boise area, places like Alpenglow Sports, Idaho River Sports, Boise Army-Navy, Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse have them. They cost $7 and you need one for each boat.
Motorized boaters automatically pay the invasive species fund fee with Idaho boat registrations.
Here's another thing to consider: While at the station, a whitewater boater coming into Idaho from out-of-state was unwrapping his raft for inspection.
Rafters coming back from early season trips on the Owyhee River in Oregon should be aware that if they are not trailering their raft fully inflated, they will probably have to unwrap their rafts to be checked. So don't bury your folded raft under everything else in the truck or on the trailer.
Incidentally, if you're heading to Oregon for rafting or paddling on the Owyhee River, you can get an Oregon invasive species permit at Rome.
Idaho and other Northwest states are pretty aggressive about preventing quagga and zebra mussels from getting into waters in the region.
"Idaho, Oregon and Washington are mussel free," said Matt Voile, who heads Idaho's prevention program with the state Department of Agriculture.
Zebra and quagga mussels are prolific and cost the U.S. billions of dollars each year, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The small mussels originated in Eurasia and can clog water intakes and damage equipment by attaching to boat motors and hard surfaces. They can damage ecosystems by harming fisheries, smothering native mussels and crayfish, and littering beaches with sharp shells.
In the late 1980s, zebra mussels spread from Europe to the Great Lakes in contaminated ballast water discharged from foreign ships.
The quagga mussel is a sister species now present in Lake Mead and Lake Havasu in the Southwest. Boaters from these waters greatly increase the risk of introduction into Idaho and other Northwest states.
Invasive species check stations in Idaho opened in February and March to catch boats being hauled west from the Great Lakes and north from the lower Colorado River Basin, which is home to Lake Mead.
"Snowbirds" - people who live in places like Arizona during the winter - are coming home and bringing their boats with them. Sometimes they zigzag through Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon before reaching their homes in the Treasure Valley.
Idaho's check stations are set up at arterials and entry points to catch these boats - and others - coming into the Gem State.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors
Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Thursday. Look for Roger next week.