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Entries in plastic baits (38)


Please, Help Keep Plastic Out Of Our Waters!

This is a northern pike that Adam Turnbull caught recently while fishing the Saskatchewan River in Alberta, Canada Saturday. Although it fought like a normal fish, it had a plastic six-pack ring around its middle. It obviously had been there for awhile, as the side view of the fish shows.

Would it eventually have died from having its mid-section squeezed and mutilated?

 No one knows. Turnbull cut it off, and said this on a Facebook post about the incident.

"Pick up your garbage. This is a Powerade wrapper which takes up no room in your pocket until you get to a garbage can. Please share!

"Never thought this post would hit 10k shares. Thanks to everyone who has had a look at this post, as it was meant to raise awareness and that it has."

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I've  never tossed plastic of any kind into the water. Not baits. Not six-pack rings. Not sandwich bags or wrappers from peanut butter crackers. It just didn’t make sense to me.

But I saw other people do it, including friends and even some professional anglers. If those discarded items were in reach before they sank, I’d nonchalantly pick them up and stow them to throw away later on shore. Yet I never said anything to them for a number of reasons, including the fact that often I was fishing out of their boats.

Others, I suspect, have had similar experiences with their fishing buddies.

Why do people who wouldn’t otherwise litter think that it’s okay to pitch plastic into our lakes and rivers? I don’t think that they do. I believe that they just don’t think about it at all. It’s part of the age old problem that we have with using our public waters for trash receptacles--- out of sight, out of mind.

But  too often those discarded plastics shos up eventually. If they're baits, anglers find them in the stomachs of fish, as I've shown in photos often at Activist Angler. Turtles mistake plastic bags and balloons for jellyfish and eat them. And six-pack rings ensnare both fish and wildlife, as the photos with this article show.

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Thousands of animals, from small finches to great white sharks, die grisly deaths each year from eating or getting caught in plastic that accumulates in our oceans at an alarming rate. So why not do something to minimize the avalanche of plastic trash and save lives?

Why not edible six-pack rings?

And that's just what SaltWater Brewery in Florida has come up with. Here's what the company says:

"Most plastic beer sixpack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Together with We Believers, we  designed, tested and prototyped the first ever Edible Six Pack Rings, sixpack packaging, made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them. They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable."

Check out the informational video at the company's website. And here's a more in-depth article about the project.

We produce more than 300 million tons of plastic annually. That's equivalent to the combined weight of all adult humans on earth. Nearly half of this we use once and then throw away. In just the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000.

Much of it is discarded on land, but is carried by wind, rain, and runoff to the oceans, where it accumulates year after year after year. That's because plastic is so durable that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports "every bit of plastic ever made still exists."

The North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is twice the size of Texas and growing. It consists mostly of small plastic particles that suspend at or just below the surface, where fish and other animals mistake them for food. Plastic there is more prevalent than real food, like zooplankton, by about 6 to 1, according to scientists.

This is but one of five such convergence zones in our oceans.

Following are some sobering statistics about discarded plastic from the Center on Biological Diversity:

Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals.

Sea turtles also mistake floating plastic garbage for food. While plastic bags are the most commonly ingested item, loggerhead sea turtles have been found with soft plastic, ropes, Styrofoam, and monofilament lines in their stomachs. Ingestion of plastic can lead to blockage in the gut, ulceration, internal perforation and death; even if their organs remain intact, turtles may suffer from false sensations of satiation and slow or halt reproduction.

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds ingest plastic every year. Plastic ingestion reduces the storage volume of the stomach, causing birds to consume less food and ultimately starve. Nearly all Laysan albatross chicks — 97.5 percent — have plastic pieces in their stomachs; their parents feed them plastic particles mistaken for food. Based on the amount of plastic found in seabird stomachs, the amount of garbage in our oceans has rapidly increased in the past 40 years.

Marine mammals ingest and get tangled in plastic. Large amounts of plastic debris have been found in the habitat of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, including in areas that serve as pup nurseries. Entanglement deaths are severely undermining recovery efforts of this seal, which is already on the brink of extinction. Entanglement in plastic debris has also led to injury and mortality in the endangered Steller sea lion, with packing bands the most common entangling material. In 2008 two sperm whales were found stranded along the California coast with large amounts of fishing net scraps, rope and other plastic debris in their stomachs.

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If you haven't done so, pledge to “pitch it” at Keep America Fishing (KAF).

When the campaign began a couple of years ago, KAF said this:

“What happens when soft baits get torn or worn out? Too often, they are ending up as litter at the bottoms of ponds, lakes and rivers and that’s causing problems. Recently in Maine a bill was introduced that would have banned the sale and use of soft plastic lures.

“That's why Keep America Fishing created the Pitch It campaign to talk to fishermen about the proper disposal of worn out soft baits. By standing up against litter, we can protect our precious natural resources while taking away a powerful argument from those who want to regulate the contents of our tackle boxes. That’s a win-win!”

Go here to take the pledge and hear a short video by Kevin VanDam in support of the effort.

By the way, I started warning about the problems caused by discarded plastic baits back in 2011, first in B.AS.S. Times and then at Activist Angler. Angler Joe Ford, who caught a large bass with a stomach full of discarded baits, and Carl Wengenroth at The Angler's Lodge on Lake Amistad first brought this issue to my attention. You can find more photos and articles about this topic by searching "plastics." Search box is at upper right of page.


Jackall Lures Joins With KAF, BASS, to Expand 'Pledge to Pitch It'

Keep America Fishing, Jackall Lures and numerous B.A.S.S. Nation chapters around the country have joined forces to expand the "Pledge to Pitch It" campaign.

A nationwide effort, the Pledge to Pitch It program encourages anglers to properly dispose of, or even recycle, worn out and used soft plastic baits. Since its launch in 2014, the campaign continues to grow in strength and prominence.

“Too often, used soft baits end up as litter at the bottom of our lakes and rivers,” said Liz Ogilvie, chief marketing officer for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the recreational sportfishing industry trade group and parent organization of Keep America Fishing.

“A bill introduced in Maine’s legislature a few years back would have placed a ban on the sale and use of soft plastic lures. That’s why, through the Keep America Fishing initiative, we created the Pitch It campaign to get anglers involved in the proper disposal of worn out soft baits by pitching them in the trash or recycling them.”

Shimano's Jackall Lures will provide up to $1,000 of soft plastic lures – including its Flick Shake worms for finesse use and the "crawling action" ScissorComb creature baits – to B.A.S.S. Nation state chapters that complete a soft bait collection/recycling program. Earlier this year, each state chapter submitted a short proposal outlining their plan for collecting used soft plastic lures to B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.

“While most anglers – and especially those involved with B.A.S.S. – do their best to keep lakes and rivers clean, we’re hoping this small incentive from Jackall Lures will help them embrace the Keep America Fishing Pledge to Pitch It program,” said Steve Ferrara, Shimano’s fishing division Vice President.

While the plans differ from state-to-state, they all focus on collecting used soft plastics and keeping them out of the rivers and lakes. Illinois Bass Nation, one of the chapters spearheading the effort since 2014, collects, melts down, and recasts collected baits as trophies. They are shooting to break their 2016 record of 134 pounds of collected lures.

Recreational anglers who haven’t yet signed the Pitch to It Pledge to properly dispose of their worn out soft plastic baits are encouraged to do so by visiting


Plastics Problem Re-Energizes Conservation Spirit in Anglers


Back in 2011, Joe Ford told me about a bass that he caught in Texas' Lake Amistad and what he found inside it. The articles that I wrote about his discovery for B.A.S.S. Times and Activist Angler awakened anglers to an environmental problem that had largely been ignored.

Through good stewardship and angler awareness programs such Pitch It, we are minimizing this problem, but the effort must be ongoing. Here's a reminder from one of early articles:

Angler Joe Ford’s chance discovery has re-energized the conservation spirit in bass anglers across the country.

B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott first tapped into that extraordinary force 40 years ago, when he introduced catch-and-release to bass tournaments. Conservation-minded anglers quickly incorporated the practice into recreational fishing, and, with a few years, it was standard procedure for fishermen worldwide, pursuing a multitude of species.

Will what Ford found in the stomach of a 10-pound largemouth spawn the second great stewardship campaign for which bass anglers become the standard bearers? That remains to be seen.

For the moment, though, it has motivated many to deal with a problem that has been too long ignored:

The bottoms of our lakes are smothered with discarded plastic baits, and fish are eating them.

Ford hadn’t intended to keep the big bass that he caught while fishing Texas’ Lake Amistad. But because it was deep hooked, he put it in the livewell to see if it would survive. It did not.

As he was dressing it out, he noted a large plastic mass in its stomach. Closer examination revealed the blob to be a dozen plastic baits.

“It was amazing to see all of those worms in there,” he told me. “I don’t know how it was going to pass them.”

Possibly it wouldn’t have. A long bait, like a worm or lizard, can work its way into the intestine and stay there.

And, because it is unable to feed, it then could starve to death.

In my September Conservation column, I revealed Ford’s experience and explained the tragic scenario likely occurring below the surface of our fisheries.  Response was instant.

Carl Wengenroth, owner of The Angler’s Lodge on  Amistad, said 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 fish cleaning stations.”

But there was good news too, as anglers immediately stepped up to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

In Arkansas, Randy Joe Heavin took his boater partner in a Central Open tournament to task for throwing baits overboard.

“I told him about the article in B.A.S.S. Times,” said Heavin, owner of Patriot Records. “And he said that he’d never really thought about it.”

The Oklahoma angler also recalled pulling up a mass of plastic worms from the bottom of DeGray Lake while jigging. “Other guys said that they were catching them too,” he recalled. “That’s when I realized that there must be a ton of them down there.”

Heavin added that he’s never thrown his used baits into the water. “But some guys get in the zone and don’t think about it.”

Not thinking about it is going to be tougher and tougher, thanks to B.A.S.S. Nation state conservation directors.

Before a  tournament on Lake Toho, Florida’s Eamon Bolten talked to 128 participants about problems caused by discarded soft plastics and asked them to deposit their used baits in a collection box.

“Many anglers mentioned how they will now start putting their used baits in the collection box at the tournaments and stop throwing them away in trash cans or in the water,” the Florida conservation director said.

“At least five told me they used to throw their baits in the water and thought nothing of it until hearing me speak about the problems it can create for our bass.”

Up in South Dakota, Jeff Brown heard about Bolten’s program and decided to do the same in his state. “Our guys are extremely receptive to the idea,” he said.

At Amistad, Wengenroth not only collects used baits but remolds them into new ones. “We call the color ‘trash,’ and it seems to catch more fish,” he said.

“Doing something like that could be a great money maker for clubs,” he added. “And the big companies could get onboard and put a message on their packages to not discard baits.”

Now that the issue has been raised at a national level, lots more ideas are being floated around in the angling community on how to deal with it. But whether enough fishermen will participate to effect fundamental change, as they did with catch-and-release, remains to be seen.


Bright Lures Catcher Bigger Bass in Canada Study

Lure color might play a role that most bass anglers hadn't considered, according to researchers at Ontario's Carleton University.

Lure color does not significantly affect the number of fish caught or whether hooking-related injuries are sustained, they revealed. But the right color choice could make the difference in whether you catch a 1-pound bass or a 5-pounder.

In a report entitled "Does Lure Color Influence Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE), Fish Capture Size, and Hooking Injury in Angled Largemouth Bass?", they said, "Bright colors appeared to selectively capture larger fish than either dark or natural lure colors . . .

"Our study reveals that while different lure colors might capture the imagination and wallet of the angler, they do not influence CPUE (catch per unit effort) or hooking injury in bass, but appear to have a small influence on the size of captured fish."

In an experiment on Lake Opinicon, a popular bass fishery, they tested six different colors of worms: leech black and bream blue (dark) , natural cigar red and wasp (natural), and sherbert orange and pearl white (bright). During July and August, the baits "were fished quite passively" by anglers with intermediate skill, who caught a total of 119 bass

Each color was fished for 20-minute intervals, and each angler fished all six before repeating a color. Bass were caught all over the lake, with a special focus on shoreline areas.

Blue caught the most bass, with 25, followed by black 23, white 22, wasp 17, orange 16, and red 16.

"When lure color was grouped into the dark, natural, and bright categories, there was a significant relationship detected between the color categories and the total length in millimeters of captured fish," the scientists said. "The bright lure color category caught fish that were significantly longer (mean total length of 349 mm)  than fish captured on the dark (318 mm) and natural (318 mm) color categories."

Based on those findings, they concluded, "It is unlikely that there is any management value in regulating lure color. Nonetheless, we expect that anglers will continue to experiment with different colors of lures in their quest for the most and biggest fish."


Share a Recyling Location for Plastic Baits

Do you know of a recycling location or container for soft plastic baits? If so, mark it on the Fishidy map. Just click here or on the map to go to the link sponsored by Keep America Fishing.

Identified locations will feature the Pitch It logo, making it easy to find on a phone, tablet or PC.

While you are at the site, also please take the pledge to properly dispose of your used plastic baits. In othe words, "Pledge to pitch it!"