Discarded fishing line still a problem in Pennsylvania
In late June, I was a guest speaker at the Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. My topic – “Do you have to be a fly-angler to be a conservationist?” During the question and answer period that followed my presentation, one of the teenage students brought up an observation.
Each year, he sees a lot of discarded monofilament fishing line along some of the streams that he fishes. He, a budding fly-fisherman, correctly attributed that to those anglers who use a spinning rod.
Discarded fishing line has the potential of trapping fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. I have seen the fatal results and they aren’t pretty. I have also been tripped when I’ve caught my foot in someone else’s tangle of discarded fishing line. Once, this happened while I was wading, which can be very dangerous.
Aside from the dangers to people and animals, “bird’s nests” of fishing line are litter. Littering has closed public access to privately owned streams more often than any other reason.
You might not be aware of it, but there is a divide between some fly-anglers and those of us who usually fish with bait or artificial lures. Fly-fishermen have a number of gripes about spin-anglers. Some are valid – most are not. However, one is right on target – only spin anglers leave tangles of mono along areas that they fish – not fly-fishermen.
On several occasions, I have unintentionally discarded a tangle of 4-pound test mono. I had stuffed it down one of my hipboots or put it in my pocket. However, when I got back to my pickup, it wasn’t there. Most spin anglers are conscientious, so the same thing might be happening to some of them. Tangles of mono have a way of working their way out of one’s pocket. All it takes is one loop to catch on a twig – and it is litter.
I found two solutions to that problem. One is to wrap the line around a short stick before pocketing it. Another is to just snip the tangle into very short pieces and discard it away from the stream. Technically this is still litter, but nearly invisible litter. All danger of animal entanglement has been removed and birds might even use the short – less than 6 inches long – strands as nest-building material. Non-ocean-strength mono breaks down rather quickly in sunlight.
If you care about the environment and the privilege of fishing on private property, as well as the image of spin-anglers or anglers in general, never discard a snarl of fishing line along the stream. Secure your mono and take home to dispose of it properly. We will all be winners in the end.