Maine guide still finding plastic inside his fish

Last year Chris Leo of Mercer, a Maine guide for 34 years, sent me a plastic worm he found inside a large brook trout he’d caught in a water holding both trout and bass. It reminded me of photos an angler submitted to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee a few years ago, of the bottom of a lake covered in fishing lures. That helped get a new law enacted banning the sale and use of lead sinkers.

A few weeks ago, Leo sent me another piece of plastic (seen in the photo with this column) with this note: “Last Sunday I caught a splake from Jamie’s Pond with another plastic inside it.  It is VERY scented. The artificial was doubled up in the emaciated fish’s innards.

“Most of my time in the water is at Pierce Pond, where plastics in fish is rarely an issue. I seldom fish bass/trout waters, but I nevertheless come across this annually. This makes me think the problem is larger than I previously thought.”

Chris wondered if this is something we can fix? What do you think?

Lead Ban Rules

DIF&W issued a recent press release “reminding fishermen that the law regarding lead fishing tackle, put in place to protect the loon population, have changed as of September 1.”

Here’s the information they provided about the rule change.

As of September 2017, the sale and use of bare lead jigs not meeting the length (2.5 inches) and/or weight (1 ounce) requirements is prohibited. The sale and use of lead sinkers not meeting the length (2.5 inches) and/or weight (1 ounce) requirements is also prohibited. If a lead sinker is over 2.5 inches in length or it weighs over 1 ounce or both it is still legal to use and sell or offer for sale.

If a sinker contains any amount of lead, it will be considered illegal if it doesn’t meet the length and weight requirements.

The department will interpret the definition of lead sinker to include any tackle that is permanently manufactured to the lead itself. When measuring for a minimum of 2.5 inches, the manufactured tackle will be included in the measurement. This will not include any additional items that have been added to the original manufacturing advice.

Please read the manufacturer’s label carefully to determine the weight of the lead sinker. If the lead is manufactured as part of other fishing tackle, the entire piece of equipment needs to be more than 1 ounce in weight. The definition of a lead sinker does not include artificial lures, weighted line, weighted flies or jig heads.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.