Game and Fish officials in Arkansas are cracking down on illegal yo-yo fishing, the technique that uses those spring-loaded reels that anglers rig and attach to fixed objects like docks, standing timber and floating plastic bottles.
"There's nothing wrong with using them, but the regulations are in place to protect wildlife and prevent our lakes from becoming eyesores," Arkansas Game and Fish Capt. Matt Flower said in a press release, which announced wildlife officers had removed 140 illegally set or unattended yo-yos last weekend on Lake Conway.
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The agency conducted a special operation to remove some of the passive fishing devices due to reaction from concerned anglers about the amount of unattended gear left on the lake. Eighteen citations were issued last weekend.
"We held a cleanup almost a year ago, and cut loose more than 300 yo-yos during that effort," Flowers said. "The 140 collected during this operation have been placed since then."
In the states where they are legal, yo-yos are frequently used to catch catch catfish, though they can be effective on many species. When a fish takes a baited hook, the spring-loaded yo-yo reel automatically sets the hook, then keeps the fish on the end of the line until it is pulled from the water.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish:
Yo-yos may be left unattended at night, but anglers using them during the day must remain within sight or sound of the device.
Yo-yos also must be labeled with the owner's name and address, driver's license number or current vehicle license number.
When abandoned, they can be a danger to fish, birds and other animals that can become entangled in their lines or hooks.
"Nearly all citations issued during the operation were for unlabeled or unattended yo-yos," Flowers said. "We did find a cormorant that had been wrapped up in a yo-yo and drowned while we were on the water this weekend."
Flowers says the agency will be stepping up efforts to curtail illegally set and abandoned yo-yos.