Environmentally speaking

Environmentally speaking
Most anglers strive to keep their fisheries healthy and productive.  Last year my local bass club was asked to assist the local fisheries biologist from the DNR in some fish tagging studies, and he asked for our input and thoughts on proposed daily bag limit changes on some area lakes.  Looking over some of his reports and things got me to thinking more about "green" tackle and stewardship on and off the water.

I've found some great resources as far as tackle that is more environmentally friendly.  One of the first things I found while watching one of my favorite fishing programs was a company called Rocky Brook Sinkers (www.rockybrooksinkers.com).  All of their sinkers are made from limestone.  From what I can see of them, on a rocky bottom, they are virtually invisible - they blend in perfectly with other small rocks.  I am definitely going to try their drop shot sinkers and some in-line sinkers as well.  It just seems like a good idea.  For one, they've sold me on the fact that fish can't tell them from regular rocks on the bottom.  I don't know if fish can, but I know I can't (angler sold!).  I can also see how the unique click of rock against rock would be something different than a fish is used to.  We know that we need to show them something a bit different from time to time, so this seems perfect.  And, let's face it, we all know that lead isn't exactly one of those "good for you" elements.  Tungsten seems to be a great alternative, but it is pricey.  So, to an angler with a budget, it might be out of a limited price range.  Why not try these sinkers made of limestone?  It seemed like a good idea to me.

I also checked out www.greentackle.org.  This site has a wide variety of environmentally friendly fishing tackle, and even some line I want to try out.  It's called Bio Line and it's made by Eagle Claw.  The site states that the line is good for 10-12 months, and is biodegradable.  It will biodegrade on land or in the water in five years.  That's a lot better than the estimated 500-600 years that it would take monofilament to disappear.  From what I've read, it has the same properties as mono, so I figured why not give it a try.  I can see how it might not work for someone who keeps the same line on their reels all season long (or for even more than one season).  I could conceivably see losing fish on it as it starts to break down - I don't know if that would happen, but I'm playing a bit of a devil's advocate here.  For me, though, and a lot of people I know, we change line after every other tournament, if not after every tournament.  So, if they report that the line will hold up for 10-12 months, I feel pretty confident that it will last through an 8-hour tournament.  I check my line now after catching every fish, or periodically throughout the day.  If it's knicked, I retie.  So, really, what's the difference?  I'm going to give this a try.

Last year was the first year I fished with a variety of soft plastics listed as biodegradable, including some Berkley Gulp! products.  I can truly say that they won't last through too many fish - at least that has been my experience.  But, on the up side, I have to say that fish will hold on to them a lot longer than stronger plastics.  These baits are definitely softer, but fish seem to like them better.  And last year, when the bite was so soft all summer long, I think it really helped me put more fish in the boat.

Overall, I think that there are a lot of products out there now that are just simply better for the environment.  Some of them might cost a bit more - I definitely went through more soft plastics last year than I normally would (but I definitely caught more fish), but I think, in the long run, more and more anglers will turn to them.  When we do, more and more companies will offer their own varieties, and costs will come down.  It's basic economics.  When economy meets environment, I think it's a win-win situation.
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