In the Boy Scouts, I learned the “Leave No Trace” principle, which encourages people to leave a minimal impact on shared outdoor spaces. Packing out what you pack in and leaving a small footprint is the core of this idea.
Here’s an example in action: Before heading home after a weekend camping trip, we were required to “comb through camp”. This ritual included the scout leaders lining up an entire troop of teenaged Boy Scouts shoulder to shoulder and then instructing us to walk slowly, together, step by step while keeping our eyes on the ground.
We were looking for litter. It was a tedious process but unquestionably effective. Nearly every pass through camp resulted in something. Oatmeal wrappers, random socks, or camp utensils fumbled from a cooking mess kit were among the most common.
As we’ll discuss later, habits die hard and I still “comb” through campsites, fishing holes, and the picnic areas that I stop at. However, I could be doing more.
I’m going to use this platform to build a simple list to help anglers “Leave No Trace”. Then, I’m going outside and picking up litter at a park. The second part is mainly because I’d feel like a huge fraud writing the article and then not doing anything about it.
Here are 4 simple ways to help you help out the environment. Thank you for reading, and thanks to the great scoutmasters like Mr. Kelly and Mr. Potsch, who taught me so much.
1) Pick Up Worm Containers
Unfortunately, way too many of our favorite fishing spots are littered with plastic and foam worm containers from anglers too lazy to throw them away.
If you see a worm container sitting on the bank, please pick it up, even if it’s not yours. Picking up after strangers is awful, but it’s not as bad as litter sitting on the bank. Plus, littered fishing tackle paints a bad picture for all anglers, not just the idiot who decided to leave it there.
2) Cigarette Butts And Beer Cans
I’m not here to shame anyone for their vices. Relaxing and enjoying yourself is what makes fishing so great. However, please bring home the Marlboro’s and Busch Lights you bring with you.
Cigarette butts are a pain to dispose of, but they still need to be thrown away correctly. My dad threw his burnt-out cigarette butts into the tray of his tackle box. Then at home, he’d toss throw them away correctly. It didn’t smell good, but it worked.
An Altoids container is another portable ashtray that prevents cigarettes from being discarded on the shoreline. Smoking is bad and painfully hard to quit. Good luck to anyone working on kicking that nasty habit.
3) Dispose Tangled Fishing Lines
Tangled fishing lines are another thing anglers are notoriously noted for leaving behind. Monofilament tangled around tree limbs or hefty braid dangled over the powerline that runs parallel to the bridge. Wherever it ends up, fishing line is harmful to the environment. Please take advantage of the fishing line receptacles found near busy fishing areas and recycle line.
4) Recycle Your Fishing Gear
Cut those Senkos in half and turn them into Ned Rigs. Trim down used plastics and rig them on a downsized finesse rig. Try to get the most out of your tackle by treating it with respect to ensure longevity. This will result in you using less, which helps the environment while saving you money!
Sell or share old fishing gear with new anglers getting into the sport. This increases the lifespan of fishing products and collectively creates less waste.
I hope you found these tips, stories, and suggestions straightforward and helpful. Please clean up after yourself. Thanks.
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