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« Judge Rejects PETA Claim That Whales Are 'Enslaved' | Main | Your Help Needed to Ensure Restoration of Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Delta »

ReBaits Inspires Anglers to Pack Out the Plastics

This bass was slowly starving to death because of the discarded plastics that it had eaten. Photo provided by Carl Wengenroth at The Angler's Lodge on Lake Amistad.

Okay, folks, we now have a movement.

No, I’m not talking about a biological function.

I’m talking about a concerted effort by bass anglers nationwide to reduce the number of used plastic baits discarded into our waters. Thanks to Eamon Bolten, conservation director for the Florida B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and the Florida Trails Bassmasters for igniting that movement.

I started writing about the threat that used baits pose to our fisheries last summer. Both on this website and in B.A.S.S. Times, I revealed that angler Joe Ford found 12 plastic baits in the stomach of a 10-pound bass that he caught at Lake Amistad. (Thanks to Ron Gilworth in New Mexico for telling me about Joe.)

After that news spread, Carl Wengenroth, owner of The Angler’s Lodge on Amistad, told me that he has seen plenty of skinny, sickly fish as he assists Texas Parks and Wildlife with fizzing and delayed mortality studies.

“We would see fish that look like a street roller ran over them,” he said. “Often, they’d die at the weigh-in. When we’d clean them, we’d find plastics in their stomachs.

“Then we started looking around and saw worms at the fish cleaning stations.”

Alarmed by what I learned from Carl and others, I wrote article after article on this issue for my website, as well as another column for B.A.S.S. Times.

Many people expressed concern, but the mobilization that I hoped to see wasn’t happening --- until Bolten stepped up, collecting baits at tournaments and encouraging others to do the same. That was the first breakthrough.

Florida Trails Bassmasters helped motivate anglers to recycle or properly dispose of their used plastics baits.

Then the Florida Trails Bassmasters collected about 20 pounds of baits during the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on the Harris Chain, and Bolten announced his ReBaits program there. News of these developments at proved to be the tipping point. National Conservation Director Noreen Clough started receiving e-mails from clubs and state federations all over the country who wanted to learn more about how to collect and recycle used plastic baits.

And last night, I received this from a reader of Activist Angler:

“I was recently scanning over some articles on the B.A.S.S website when I ran across the ReBaits program. I never put much thought into the harmful effects of used plastics in our country's waters until I saw this article.  I would like to see if maybe you could give this program some more exposure, so that even more anglers will be alerted of the potential dangers to our irreplaceable resources. . .

“This seems like a feasible idea that would be very simple to implement in our state, district, and national tournaments.”

And that’s how I know we have a movement. Back on Aug. 31, I first wrote about this issue at Activist Angler. Now, it’s traveled full circle and come back to me.

And I am happy to write about it again because I agree 100 percent with the reader.

To learn more, search “plastic baits” on this site. My original column for B.A.S.S. Times is here.

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Reader Comments (1)

Great piece Robert! I have been promoting the safe disposal of soft plastics for decades. There are petroleum based chemicals in soft plastics that are potentially harmful as well, even if not consumed by fish. I read somewhere that clubs melt discarded plastics down and make new baits, recycling those old ones, and sell or give to kids.

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCapt. Steve Chaconas

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