The Life of Fishing Line

June3Every spring, thousands of anglers from across the country come to northwest Ohio to fish as several different species begin to travel upstream to spawn, including walleye and white bass. Fishing benefits the local community in many ways and offers an economic boost through tourism. However, sometimes what is left behind after these spring fishing runs isn’t as pretty. Over the years, our cleanup volunteers have collected over 300 pounds of lead, hundreds of feet of fishing line, and hundreds of pounds of trash along the Maumee River near popular fishing sites.  It is not fair to single out the anglers who come to our area as the sole source of this fishing line, lead, and trash; however, we have installed 20 fishing line recycling bins throughout the greater Toledo area to provide anglers a proper place to dispose of unwanted or broken line. 

Fishing line, if left alone along rivers and lakes, will remain there for at least 600 years. We have seen and heard of several instances of wildlife, such as birds and snakes, getting entangled in fishing line or mistaking it for food. Majority of the time, we encourage volunteers to look for fishing line under rocks in shallow parts of the river, on tree branches, or buried under sediment along the riverbank.  The lead and line that is found during these cleanups is eventually sorted, cleaned, and sent to a Partner to be recycled and reused.

Unfortunately, a lot of fishing line and lead is not found during our cleanups and it is up to anglers and other water recreationalists to help remove this type of marine debris from our waterways. To gauge the scope of the fishing line problems we are facing on our local waterways, Partners for Clean Streams reached out to Brad Dunkle, owner of Wildwood Anglers to get input from someone who is out on the front lines of the issue. When asked about how much fishing line he finds while guiding fishing trips or out scouting, Brad said, “The Maumee River gets pretty crazy. There are just so many spots on the banks that line can get snagged and you can tell that some of it has been there for quite a long time. When the water level starts to drop and clear up a bit I find unbelievable amounts of line and lures. Once I found 50 floating jigs in one outing!”

When questioned about what efforts we can take to raise local awareness about the problem Brad added, “When I am out on the river I pull as much line as I can carry either on my person or in my boat, but I am only one person. I make it a point to teach my customers about not only how to properly dispose of any line they use, but to make a habit of picking up any line or lures they see while they are fishing. There is more to owning a business than simply making money. As a guide and lover of the outdoors I feel as if we have a duty to protect our resources, especially the gem that is the Maumee River. That is why Wildwood Anglers is committed to conservation, preservation and to building awareness of how to protect our local resources.”