A Tangled Web
Fishing line creates bird’s nests in reels. Line left in the water latches onto underwater objects including dock pilings, submerged trees and even sub aquatic vegetation, laying a trap for birds, boats and other water inhabitants.
Under and above the water, line can last up to 600 years. As more anglers cut their losses, fishing spots are clogging with spider webs of line snagging more lines. Good fishing spots become death traps for above and below water residents and fishing lures. Using plug knockers will save lures and cut down on line left behind.
It’s what you can’t see that hurts as most fishing lines are extremely difficult to spot. Engines suck fishing line into water intakes and line wraps around outdrives, gutting seals and causing hundreds and even thousands of dollars damage while crippling boats out on the water. Trolling motors aren’t exempt as seal damage can happen in seconds.
Discarded lines present serious environmental issues. When thrown into garbage bins, line can end up in the environment, either by blowing out of the bin or landfill or scattered by birds or animals. No matter the angler intent, most line disposal spreads the problem around. Often thin and clear, it’s very difficult for fish, crustaceans, birds, animals, swimmers and scuba divers to see. Unsuspecting victims become entangled, and may become injured, drown, get strangled or starve to death. Turtles and even whales can become ensnared in tangled webs.
Used line creates a problem from the water to the landfill and in between. BoatUS stepped up to allow anglers a collective alternative to random disposal. Most marinas and boat ramps display familiar PVC line recycling bins. BoatUS volunteer assembly lines transformed cut and glued drainpipe with stickers and signs into recycle bins. The three foot-long PVC cylindrical bins were shipped to fishing clubs; marinas and community groups to be mounted to fishing piers, at launch ramps or marina boat docks. There are nearly 2,000 bins around the country. In 2010 alone, the program recycled over 2,700 miles of fishing line, enough to stretch from coast to coast saving outdrives and the outdoors from a potential menace. “It’s our goal to make fishing line recycling as commonplace as recycling cans and bottles,” said BoatUS Foundation Director of Environmental Programs Susan Shingledecker. The program was funded by grants from the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and matched by contributions from BoatUS members. Grant money ran out, so BoatUS created a do-it-yourself video, https://www.boatus.com/foundation/monofilament/. BoatUS supplies signs and decals. “Most folks can find the money for the PVC.”
Fishing line requires a special recycling process and cannot go into most regular household recycling bins. Instead it can be brought to an outdoor recycling bin at a participating tackle shop. Save home-spooled line in a box or bag and bring to a drop-off location. If you toss monofilament out with your garbage, cut line into short lengths, 6 to 12 inches. Otherwise it goes to the landfill where it can be scavenged by animals to build nests or to eat it. Animals will get entangled, entangle their young and will bring line back in the environment.
Since 1990, the Berkley Conservation Institute has recycled more than 9 million miles of fishing line and converted discarded line into artificial, underwater habitat structures. The 4-foot cube “Fish-Hab” attracts fish and encourages plant growth, providing natural cover essential to growing a healthy fish population. These attractors are available to pond owners, anglers, communities or anyone interested in improving an aquatic habitat. To order a Fish-Hab, send 75 UPC codes from Berkley line spools or packages or $75 to: Berkley Fish-Hab 1900 18th Street Spirit Lake, IA 51360. They also accept recycled fishing line sent to “Berkley Recycling” at the same address.
Recycling begins with anglers putting line in its place! Keep a line baggie on board or cut an X into the lid of a tennis ball or similar canister to make it easy to poke pieces of line through until it can be disposed of properly. Anglers should always try to retrieve as much of their line as possible, breaking off close to the hook to leave behind less line. If your tackle shop does not have a recycling bin, encourage them to participate in the program. As more people fish, fishing line will become a bigger problem. Start with your line and recycle!
Potomac River Bassing in February
This is the last of the really cold months to fish with water anywhere from 38-48 degrees. Days are getting longer and grass should start to emerge late in the month.
Winter patterns of burping Silver Buddy lures off the bottom on steep drops in out of the current areas are still effective. Use a medium heavy rod with a softer tip. 10 pound test GAMMA Edge here! There are a few presentations: a standard burb and drop on semi slack line or a slight drag and stop. Allow the bait to sit on the bottom for a few seconds.
Once fish depth is found with the Silver Buddy, other techniques will work too! With soft plastics, use 6-pound test EDGE on spinning gear for Mann’s Stingray Grubs and Hardnose 4 inch grubs on ¼ ounce ball head jigs cast in the same area, worked slowly and soaked in Garlic flavor Jack’s Juice to encourage fish to hold on.
On the warmest days at lower tides and with clear water, suspending Lucky Craft Bevy Shad cranks will present easy targets for slightly more active fish. A very slow crawl, twitch and stop on GAMMA EDGE Fluorocarbon 10-pound test line.
When the water is up to 45 degrees, try Mann’s Classic spinnerbaits with gold blades and white skirts slowly crawled through bottom cover.
Written by: Steve Chaconas
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/bassfishing/)
Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com