Leave No Trace While Fishing

Cast but help the fish last

Picture this. You go to your favorite fishing spot this summer. The same spot you have gone to and had a blast at for years. You go to cast your line, but you get snagged. In fact, every few casts you get snagged. Why does this happen? Simple. Besides getting caught on rocks or plants, you might be getting caught on fishing line, lures, hooks, trash and whatever else has been left behind. While we can’t always help when a fish snaps our line, we can control what we leave behind. Here are four ways to not only keep your fishing spot clear of snags but keep the fish around as well.

Pick up after yourself

Let's go back to kindergarten rules with a simple “leave things how you found it”. By making sure that any trash you brought in leaves with you, you can make a huge difference in the pollution of your fishing area. Not only is it annoying to try to avoid trash while fishing, but the trash can also hurt fish or possibly scare them away. Also, with time, these plastics will start to breakdown into microplastics, which are fragments of plastics, that will be swallowed by the fish and could mean that you will eat microplastics if you are fishing to eat. To limit the trash you bring in, try bringing snacks or drinks in reusable containers. If that is not an option, try bringing a trash bag or trashcan to keep your trash secured until you can properly throw it away later.

Fish and pickup

You are already there fishing so why not pick up any trash you see? True, you didn’t go fishing to pick up another person's trash, but at the end of the day it will benefit you and the fish that you are trying to catch. Whenever you take a break, try walking the river's edge and look for trash, fishing line or anything that could harm the fish or other wildlife. Brought family with you? Have them help by making a game or contest out of who can pick up the most trash. Only there to swim? Swim and look for anything you can pick up (safely and out of people’s way of course!).

Be Proactive

Take steps to solve the problem before it starts. Team up with your fellow fishermen and community to set up trash cans or safe areas to change your line to prevent it from going into the water or getting into the mouths of other wildlife. If you know that someone recently had a fish swim off with a bunch of their line, be on the lookout for the fish so that you can help untangle it and remove the line from the water. Also, if you see a lot of people getting snagged in a certain area, and you are able, wade out there and clear any trash or fishing gear. This will save time in the end because it will cause less problems for you to solve later.

Double check before you move

At the end of each fishing trip, we all know we are going to find that stray hook or a wrapper from a snack we had at lunch. It just comes with the trip. So, to help prevent any of that from going into the water, check to make sure that those stray items are secure before moving or dumping out water from your boat. By simply checking the bottom of your boat or canoe at the end of each trip, you can prevent a lot of waste from going back into the water. If you have a speedboat, secure everything before you speed off to the next spot. It can be tedious to constantly strap everything down or put everything away before moving but by taking this extra step you can limit how much stuff you lose from it flying off your boat.

Fishing, for many of us, is a way to get back to nature, enjoy our favorite hobby or just relax. But trash or fishing gear that is left behind can ruin this experience for people who share that passion for fishing and cause damage to the area to the point where it can no longer be used to fish. Some of these steps may seem obvious. However, some may think that one hook here and there doesn't make that big of an impact when it does. One hook or one inch of fishing line can cause more and more people to snag their lures or snap their fishing line until it becomes a huge, tangled mess. By taking these extra steps and going the extra mile we can protect the area and continue to have the privilege to fish.  

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