Give 5, Pick up Discarded Fishing Line

The problems cause by discarded fishing line to wildlife are so well known, I assume that anyone that deliberately leaves fishing line around streams and lakes

  1. Just doesn’t care
  2. Lack the intelligence to know better
  3. Are too young to read

We could cut the young and dumb some slack, but few of the very young or the infirm go fishing by themselves. You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem and you are responsible for teaching your children. No more excuses for slobs that just don’t care.

Discarded Fishing Line Kills Wildlife

There are countless cases of wildlife (fish, aquatic birds and mammals) being killed or maimed by discarded fishing line. I have personally removed fishing line from Osprey chicks that were trapped in the nest and would have certainly lost a leg and died a slow agonizing death. Fishing line is also a big threat to sea turtles and has also been blamed for damaging coral reefs.

There is not much that can be done about fishing line that is lost when we get snagged in deep water, but there is no excuse for leaving discarded fishing line behind or tossing a “bird’s nest” in the water.

For those that just learned how to read, take a piece of fishing line and make a slip knot. Put your finger inside the loop and pull it as tight as you can. If you still think it is acceptable to toss fishing line on the ground or in the water, then make a bigger loop and put your head into it and make sure you do this before you breed.

PioPod (Pack it Out Pod)

A friend recently sent a PioPod microtrash container to me as a gift. I clipped it on my fishing vest and now have a place for those small pieces of fishing line that used to fall out of my pockets. Check it out.

Good Thing I am not King

Except for teenagers and drunks that always leave beer cans and break the bottles, I can’t understand how people deliberately trash outdoor places they supposedly enjoy. While I am venting, this also includes those that seem to think wildlife habitat is nothing more than something for them to drive over, make noise and kick up dust.

I know of only one solution to turn these butt-flicking, fishing line tossing, littering “A-holes” from something negative into something positive. We can shoot them and use their bodies for fertilizer. Make sure to use copper bullets to prevent lead toxicity. Just checking to see who’s still paying attention. Good thing I’m not King huh?

Lack of Education?

Everyone says it’s simply an education problem. So, if  they (littering slobs) knew what I know, would they think like I do? Or, if I knew what they know (and only what they know), would I think like they do?

Part of the problem with education, is everyone is born a blank slate. So just as we all have to be taught not to piss in our pants, we have to be taught how to appreciate and respect the outdoors and to help limit our effects on the environment.

Speaking of pissing our pants, who hasn’t found dirty diapers tossed out somewhere? A bullet is too good for these people. Several years ago, I was sitting on a ridge during the elk season. A truck slowly drove up the road on the other side of the valley. The truck stopped and a guy in full camo got out and changed the baby’s diaper on the tailgate. What a dad! Baby sitting while hunting and teaching his kids about the great outdoors. Then I watched him toss the diaper off the side of the road and drive away. My high hopes for his next generation sank.

There ought to be a law, right? Well, there ought to be someone to enforce the law. But that’s not working out to well is it?

I will Give 5

Since nobody else is going to do anything about it, I guess it’s up to those of us that care about the places we fish to pick up fishing line and trash. I even hate the thought of picking up after some ignorant “A-hole” slob, but I hate the discarded line and trash more. Not just because it looks bad, but also because of the potential dangers it presents to wildlife.

I have committed to pick up fishing line for five minutes each time I go fishing. Yes, my fishing time is as precious as anyone’s, but in the spirit of organizations like “Give 5 to Cancer”,  I will “give 5” to make the places I fish cleaner and safer. Will five minutes make a difference? Yes, five minutes makes a big difference in a small area.Try it.

Photo of Fishing Line and Trash Collected

cleaned up fish line and trash

Fishing Line and Trash Collected; 3 trips = 15 minutes

Update –  The last two times I went fishing, I had to hustle to take advantage of the last minutes before dark. By the time I quit, it was dark and so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers, so I admit I didn’t pick up any fishing line or trash. I owed 10 minutes.

On Thanksgiving day, we went to our local river to walk off some of the turkey, stuffing and gravy. I deliberately left my fly rod at home to make sure we walked and that I paid my 10 minutes. We walked along the river and watched the brown trout on their redds, which made me regret not bringing my rod.

I was glad to find very little trash in the area. I picked up a couple of bottles and some fresh packaging for spinning gear. I also found a few shot gun shells and shot cups though the area is a posted no hunting area. I was glad not to see any worm cups in this “artificial only” section this time.

What surprised me was the number of tapered leaders that were left on the bank. I can’t blame these on bait fishermen. I paid back the 10 minutes and then some winding up fishing line and at least 30 tapered leaders onto a stick.

It’s one thing to try to put a small piece of line or paper in a pocket, then later discover it escaped before it could be put in the trash, but this was no accident. The leaders had been trimmed down to four or five feet and then abandoned when they were replaced. Another reason to use tippet rings, they save leaders (read more about Tippet Rings). No excuse for the slackers that tossed their old leaders on the bank.

Notable Items Found While Picking Up Discarded Fishing Line

  • Chocolate milk container – Proof only kids litter
  • Shotgun shells and shot cups in no hunting area – clueless or lawless?
  • Umpqua All purpose Forceps (with hook eye cleaner) – perfect condition and better than the pair I have because they fit over my fat knuckles


  1. Mary Shirley Gardiner says

    How do we set up a group to clear a local lake/pond of discarded fishing lines

    • If it is a place that gets lots of trash, that means it gets lots of traffic. There should be as many people that don’t litter and do pick up other people’s trash as those that do litter. If there is a fishing club that visits that area, start trying to organize there.

      Otherwise, spend 5 or 10 minutes picking up trash and especially fishing line every time you visit.

      We are supposed to leave each recreation place better than we found it. In most cases, we can’t do much except to pick up litter some jerk left behind.

      Fishing line is a particularity bad version of litter because of the danger it presents to fish and wildlife, especially if fish hooks are attached.

      Thanks for your help.

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