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Jeff Jones
"Bassnfly" - Guest Blogger

The Anti-fishing Crowd Has Been At It Again! Part 1

Guest Blog by: Jeff Jones , CA 2/1/2014

A recent topic of discussion is the attempt to ban use of soft-plastic lures (SPL’s) in the State of Maine.  This is the type of subject that raises the hackles on my neck!  Gets my back up!  It causes me to look closely at a bloated bureaucracy with an eye towards my own self-preservation and that of my passion for fishing.  So I am taking a stand…

This time the attempted subversion made it all the way to a bill being presented in the Maine legislature by one who appears to be an ill-informed representative with little to no actual knowledge of even contemporary fishing nomenclature.  My first clue to his being at minimum ill-informed is because the bill used the term “rubber” lures, an ancient term for soft-plastics that tactically presents today’s lures as the equivalent of old tires and superballs!  Thus, having the first clue about the source of this attack, or at least someone else’s public mouth-piece, the rest of the research into the topic began to dissolve the argument altogether. 

While the term “rubber” is not clearly defined in the scant one-page bill,” … “its intent is clear: “to ban the soft baits that Maine anglers use every day.”” –

Regardless of the terminology, every soft-plastic lure I have lost in my lifetime would not amount to the equivalent of tossing one 12-inch trailer tire into a lake, bad as that would be!

From a scientific point-of-view, overall the report indicated a low rate of soft baits found in the digestive system of fish surveyed between 1985 and 2013, ranging from a low of 0.4 percent to a high of 5.2 percent of fish sampled, depending on the survey method.” – article.

Thankfully, for this attack anyway, the vast majority of REAL anglers, those who love the sport and the fish they pursue, the REAL conservationist with a REAL stake in the preservation of fisheries, voiced an outcry that the generally over-bloated and self-important bureaucracy could not ignore, resulting in the elected ignorant deferring to the publicly funded state entity charged with protecting the resource, who eventually determined that educating the general public was a better approach than relieving them of the chance to even lose a lure in the first place.  If it only saves one fish it would NOT be worth it!

It endorsed “rigorous enforcement of state and local laws and regulations pertaining to littering of SPLs in freshwater environments” and recommended working with the Warden Service “to raise awareness of litter issues caused by discarded SPLs in Maine’s lakes and ponds.”” – article.

It would be far more productive to enforce and increase penalties for the vast amount of litter left in and around our waters by the general public, anglers or otherwise, instead of focusing on the relatively small amount of plastic lures lost during a fishing day by some anglers.  A hell of a lot more would be accomplished by actually enforcing an individual fine of $500 and loss of fishing license, where appropriate, for littering your aluminum cans and fast-food containers and candy wrappers steam-side than preventing millions of anglers from using a plastic worm!

This has the stink bait stench of another attempt by anti-fishing activists, or at least the “purist” fishing crowd who say they support fishing just as long as it is done only in the manner they support.  Actually, that is unfair to stink bait, which may smell bad to some but can serve a real purpose in the applicable situation, unlike this bill.  Strangely enough, I have found no reference whatsoever to the source of this bill’s birth other than the Representative who proposed it.  No one has suggested where his information comes from or what backers suggested it be proposed in the first place.  Given that the general consensus is that the wording of the proposal is inaccurate at best and grossly uninformed at worst, the thought is that the representative likely did not come up with such an idiotic proposal on his own but with the influence of anti-fishing activists who obviously don’t know a thing about fishing.

That having been said, there are good reasons to not litter your soft plastics.  I know at some point in my past I have removed a damaged lure from a hook and tossed it overboard, but, given that over the years I have matured in my respect for the outdoors we all enjoy, I now toss any old soft-plastic lures into the bottom of the boat or in a pocket to be disposed of later.  And I encourage others to do so, too.

There are ways to dispose of old soft-plastics.  In CA, our CA B.A.S.S. Nation Tournament Director has been collecting discarded soft-plastic lures at the end of events for recycling.  Right now I have a Folgers container in my garage to collect old soft-plastics to send in. 

Here is a Bassmaster article about how recycling soft-plastic lures started: Link.

Along with ReBait, there are many youtube postings to learn how to recycle and reuse soft-plastic baits.

Continued in Part 2...

An avid angler and writer, Jeff started tournament bass fishing in 1990. While his first love is bass fishing, he also enjoys fishing for other species including fly-fishing and saltwater. Jeff is active with area bass organizations and has held most officer position at either the club or state level and has been a frequent State Team Qualifier. A guest speaker for the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, Jeff has presented numerous seminars and tank demonstrations and is dedicated to promoting the sport of fishing through education and youth.
Blog content © Jeff Jones
Blog Comments
Lloyd Tackitt, 2/1/2014 5:09:17 PM
Here's a little info on the bill's sponsor: Representative Paul T. Davis Representative Paul Davis is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives, representing District 26, which includes Atkinson, Dover-Foxcroft, Medford, Milo, Sangerville, the plantation of Lake View, and Orneville Township. Rep. Davis served four terms as a state senator, including one term as assistant leader of the Senate Republicans and two terms as the leader. Prior to his legislative career, Paul spent 23 years as a Maine State Trooper, serving primarily in Piscataquis County. He also served six years in the Army National Guard. A member of the board of directors of the Sportman's Alliance of Maine, he is an avid hunter, fisherman, and snowmobiler. Rep. Davis and his wife, Patricia, have two grown children and four grandchildren
wickedfisha, 2/2/2014 7:09:55 AM
Being from Maine, I am very familiar with this battle being fought against the use of SP's. Much of it stems from the warden service who deals with issuing the tickets for littering in Maine's waterways. I know of one specific example in central Maine where they conducted a drawdown of the water level at a popular fishery (for other reasons) only to find quite a large amount soft plastics on the exposed lake bed. Unfortunately, those plastics take a damn LONG time to break down naturally, so this was decades of old plastic. Like much of what we humans do, there can be negative consequences for the environment when we aren't careful about our tactics for recreating. But we all know that motor boats generally leak a small amount of fuel and oil into the water and you don't see a ban on outboards because of that. I think the better approach is to educate on the proper uses of SP's and how we can manage their impact. I can honestly say that I'm a huge fan of plastics when fishing for bass, pickerel, and perch in Maine. I have lost a few to big fish or sloppy technique, for sure, but my total amount of litter is so microscopic compared to conventional methods of pollution that it just seems trivial. Learn how to rig a plastic worm, how to set the hook correctly, and how to use your drag, and we should see a lot less SP's on the bottoms of Maine's lakes.
Jeff Jones (Bassnfly), 2/2/2014 11:33:42 AM
Of note: Rep. Davis has been a Chairman of the ME legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. He has a commendable public history of service to his country and community. According to a cursory web search, Rep. Davis remains active in sponsoring legislation regarding hunting and fishing laws in ME, including a majority of reported votes that I would have supported. Several websites that rate political activities place Rep. Davis well on the same side of the aisle that I would likely be rated. Up to now, after researching further and reading dozens of articles, I have failed to find any public statement of reason why Rep. Davis proposed this onerous legislation other than the following statement from a local source, an outdoor writer and outdoor sports journalist: “Rep. Paul Davis, who has expressed concern about the fact that the bottoms some of our lakes and ponds are covered in rubber lures, after hearing the report, asked DeGraaf if rubber lures were really a problem. “It’s mostly a littering problem,” replied DeGraaf. That was the only question asked at the work session.” – By this reasoning we can look forward to more onerous legislation in the future i.e. not everyone cleans up their own litter at the park, therefor no one can go to the park.