Time to stop killing our fish and wildlife with fishing lures

Senator Paul Davis has sponsored legislation to require biodegradable rubber fishing lures for freshwater fishing. His bill will also ban stainless steel hooks. The bill would allow 5 years to achieve his goal.

The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee will hear the bill on February 27. The hearing starts at 9:15 am.

Cameron Patterson, a college student from Oakland, will testify in favor of the bill, and he has a great story to tell. As his eagle scout project, Cameron decided to clean up the bottom of Tricky Pond in Naples.

Tricky Pond was awarded the title of “Cleanest Body of Water in Maine,” which makes Cameron’s project even more amazing.

With help and guidance from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and participation by a bunch of scouts, Cameron cleaned 22 pounds of fishing lures and sinkers from the bottom of a one-mile section of the pond. Imagine how much fishing gear could be in other lakes and ponds, if the cleanest water in Maine has this much!

Lead Sinkers

Many years ago, the legislature debated – for two sessions – a ban on lead sinkers proposed by Maine Audubon. On behalf of the Sportsman’s alliance of Maine, I opposed the bill in the first session and we defeated it.

But two years later, when Audubon proposed the ban again, we supported it, recognizing that there were plenty of good alternatives to lead sinkers.

One thing that changed my mind was the death of a loon, in the lake behind my house, after the loon ingested a lead sinker. We got the loon to Avian Haven, but they could not save it.

I also remember, at the hearing on the lead sinker bill, a guy offered photos of a popular fishing spot where the lake bottom was covered in lures and sinkers.

We need to launch a statewide project to clean our lakes and ponds of lures and sinkers. Perhaps our lake associations can take the lead on this. We also need the industry to step up with more biodegradable lures.

 I want to thank Senator Paul Davis for sponsoring this important bill, and Cameron for being at the hearing to share his story with committee members.

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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.