With summer in full bloom, many of the “green living” folks among us venture down to the nearest water body to do a little fishing and in my case bass fishing.
Although I still consider myself a journeyman when it comes to green living and maintaining a green lifestyle, I have been using most of the following green fishing tips for decades.
Here are a few helpful green tips to make all of our fishing trips more enjoyable and help keep the aquatic environment closer to its natural state:
- Be conscious of your trash and pickup after yourself;
- Cleanup all used packaging material, tangled fishing line, and spent tackle. Recycle materials (fishing line, tackle, etc.) whenever possible. Today, fishing line recycling stations are popping up all over the place. Be sure to take advantage of them!
- When catching your own bait, only take what you need;
- Native minnows (chubs, shiners, etc.), worms, leeches, crayfish are often harvested by fisherman before each trip. In some areas, excess fishing pressure may be straining bait as well as fish populations. Only take the amount of bait actually needed for a given trip.
- When buying bait, do not release non-native bait species into the environment;
- Many dealers across the country sell bait species not native to their area. You should never release non-native species into local waters or you risk altering the ecosystem with a more dominant species.
- When packing up at the end of the day, check all equipment (boats, trailers, etc.) for aquatic plants or other species and remove to minimize spread of invasive species;
- The spread of aquatic plant species such as hydrilla, Eurasian watermilfoil, or animal species like Asian carp or zebra mussels into US waters has been a growing problem for a few decades. The organisms are often unintentionally spread by fisherman (especially boaters) when those species get trapped on equipment and are introduced to new waters on the next trip. Check and clean all equipment before leaving the area.
- Use terminal tackle (sinkers, hooks) non-toxic and degradable materials;
- Lead sinkers have been linked to poisoning issues in waterfowl and shorebirds. Use non-toxic weights such as steel or tungsten to prevent future poisonings.
- Though stainless steel hooks sound like a great investment they don’t rust in tackle boxes, the also don’t corrode when lodged in released fish as regular hooks do. Avoid using stainless steel hooks to prevent long term damage to released fish.
- Respect the size and quantity limits established by governing fisheries agency and harvest fish you will actually use;
- Size and quantity limits exist to maintain balance in each fishery. Even though exceeding the limits is a violation of the law, it also upsets the balance of the system often hurting populations in the long run.
- Only take (harvest) the fish you’ll actually use. There is nothing more maddening (nor enraging to anti-fishing activists) then to see rotting fish at the waters edge.
- I remember one time when a local fisherman caught a stringer of five bass all over five pounds then tied it to a tree on private land just to be a show-off. The property used to be the only access point to that particular body of water for local residents. When the caretaker for this track of Audubon Society land reported the incident to the regional office, they gated the road into the property and prohibited all future access. People can be so self-centered and stupid at times.
- Tread lightly on sensitive shoreline environments.
- These are delicate environments that are easily damaged when people either walk, drag equipment or drive across them. This is another example often touted by anti-fishing activists when making their case to ban fishing in certain areas.
Making the appropriate choices to integrate a green lifestyle into your time as a fisherman is more than just environmentally smart; it will help preserve this precious resource as well as our privilege to enjoy it.