Right thing to do

Two gallon-size zip-close bags on the bench in my fishing shop look harmless enough, but their contents pack the potential for a nasty ecological punch.

One bag stores monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing line replaced over the past three seasons. The other is full of tattered soft plastic worms and creature baits.

Fortunately here in Mahoning County we have opportunities to make sure our old fishing line and unusable plastic worms won’t contribute to environmental nightmares.

The Mahoning County Green Team, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Berlin Reservoir and Lake Milton State Park, is promoting fishing line reclamation and recycling stations. Anglers can drop off mono and fluorocarbon lines at any of 10 locations in Mahoning County. They are listed at the bottom of today’s column.

Want to recycle your old soft plastics? Jeff Grope, an avid angler who was a member of the Youngstown State University bass fishing team before his recent graduation, collects old baits, melts them and pours fresh new baits.

Fishing line is a major headache around lakes, rivers and out in the wide-open ocean. If discarded improperly, it can foul habitat and ensnare everything that walks, wiggles, slinks, swims or flies close to its loops and tangles.

Plastic worms are trouble, too. They take years to break down and can find their way into the digestive systems of reptiles, amphibians, fish, waterfowl and mammals, where they are virtually undigestible. They can swell up in guts and cause distress and death.

We anglers owe it to our fish and other wildlife to make sure the line we replace and the plastics we use aren’t left to do harm.

The stuff stashed in those two zip-close bags in my shop packs enough wallop to be disastrous. One bag has close to 9,000 yards of old line. That’s 27,000 feet, more than five miles. Imagine the giant snare it could become if discarded recklessly.

I’m just one angler. Thousands of Northeast Ohio anglers replace their fishing lines; many do it multiple times each year. It would be reasonable to guess just in our corner of Ohio we replace enough line to crisscross the U.S. three times or more.

Thankfully, says Kim Lewis of the Mahoning County Green Team, we have 10 collection stations around Berlin Reservoir and five more at Lake Milton. Look for PVC tubes affixed to posts that also display signage explaining the recycling process.

Berlin stations are at the dam parking lot, the ODNR ramp on Bonner Road, the east and west sides of the U.S. 224 causeway, the dirt ramp on Bedell Road, the Mill Creek Campround ramp, the Bedell Road bridge, the north and south sides of the Ohio 14 bridge, and the Price Street ramp. At Milton, go to the Miller’s, Point View and Robinson Point ramp, the dam access entrance and the Mahoning Avenue causeway.

Those who would like to recycle their tattered plastic worms can call Jeff Grope at 330-398-9302. He advises callers to leave a message and he’ll be in touch to arrange pickup for the baits that will be melted down to become the next generation of lures.

The Green Team’s Lewis said fishing line is boxed and shipped to Berkeley Fishing, which processes the nylon and fluorocarbon to manufacture fish habitat.

I encourage all anglers to save the line they replace this winter along with their no-longer-useable plastic grubs, twisters, worms, craws, swimbaits and trailers. Bag them up and dispose of them properly.

It’s not always convenient. I know that. But it’s the right thing to do. I know that, too.


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