Public fishing etiquette

The weather is good, the fish are cooperating, and you’re reeling in fish as fast as you can. Before you know it, a hook gets snagged and you have to break the line. There’s no trashcan nearby and you’re on a roll. You leave the line on the ground with the intention of throwing it away later ­– we’ve all been there. But the reality is, that line will mostly likely end up staying right where you left it.

Too often, line, plastic lures, and other trash are left behind by well-intentioned anglers. A small piece of a plastic worm here and a little bit of line there, hardly seem like cause for concern, but when every angler leaves a little bit of trash behind, a big mess can be the end result.

Today’s monofilament fishing line can last many years after an angler has left it behind. Not only is it an eyesore, but fishing line can have deadly consequences for fish, turtles, birds and other wildlife.

Here are some tricks and tips for leaving a public fishing spot better than you found it:

– Always carry a folded-up trash bag in your tackle box. It can serve as a poncho and gear protector during the rainy season, and as a trash container for empty cups and other food items when it’s time to clean up.

– Allot space in your tackle box for broken lures or lures in need of repair. At the end of every trip, empty it out at the nearest trash can, or take them home to repair on a Sunday afternoon.

– Keep a coffee can in your vehicle to collect old line. By cutting open a small slit in the plastic cover, you can stuff in old line. Also, always clean up the line of others you come across. (The good karma may pay off during your next fishing trip!)

– Consolidate hooks and lures where you can. When looking through your gear prior to a trip, consider placing similar lures together, especially if you only have one or two left. This will cut down on the number of bags or containers that need to be thrown away when out fishing.

Kansas has some great public fishing opportunities, and we owe it to the land and our fellow anglers to keep it that way. When fishing public waters, leave it better than you found it.