Changing Our Ways

Changing Our Ways

I will forever remember Billy Sandifer’s words in reference to fisheries conservation, “If we don’t leave any there won’t be any.” Typical Billy logic expressed in terms everybody could understand, full of truth and wisdom. I sure do miss him.

So, borrowing from Billy, I want to say that if we will endeavor to reduce the amount of disposable plastic containers and packaging used on fishing trips, the chance of leaving plastic litter behind on the waterways will decline in direct proportion.

I know some readers will see these words and think, “Well, he must be talking about somebody else because I bag all my trash on the boat and dispose of it at the dock.”

Fair enough. And to be honest, the amount of litter in our bays did not come from one boat. However, if we are not willing to change our ways and set good examples, how will the message ever catch hold with the nearly 1.5 million Texas fishermen - a large slice of whom are not so conscientious.

In this article I will discuss some of the traditional failures in plastic management among fishermen, with a few words of encouragement to also change our reliance on plastic in everyday life.

I am a wade-fishermen and quite often my strolls in the water take me a surprising distance from my anchored boat. Unless fishing my way back, I like to get on the shoreline for a quicker and easier return walk. It is rare on these treks that I do not come upon some amount of litter and too often I find fishing lure packages. Pretty good giveaway that a fellow angler was less than diligent in minding his trash. Heck, I have found unopened packages of soft plastics a time or two.

Rather than allowing packages of baits and/or empty packages to accumulate on the boat console where they can blow around in the wind, let’s apply a little twist on Billy Sandifer’s conservation message. “If we don’t take the packages on the boat, they cannot blow out.”

In the accompanying photo you will see a Plano lure box and several packages of plastic baits. Make a habit of opening the packages before the fishing trip and storing them in a similar container, and always dispose of the packaging in a proper manner. Oh, and those chewed up plastic lures, please don’t discard them in the water.

Empty ice sacks floating in the water are some of my greatest pet peeves. Ever had one wrap your outboard’s lower unit and block the cooling water pickup?

The best solution for this problem is to eliminate the problem before it has a chance to happen. There are many brands of reusable ice packs on the market and my favorite is Arctic Ice. Place a few of these in your Yeti Softside and enjoy your sandwiches and snacks chilled and fresh, not sloshing around several hours in icy-slurry. Soggy sandwich, anybody?

Ice is never a good investment, even if you own a premium ice chest. The Arctic Ice pack is reusable – I keep a half-dozen in the kitchen freezer, ready to go all the time.

On the left side of this photo we see the traditional Cokes and bottled water. Great way to remain hydrated through a hot day of fishing but – empty plastic drink containers are perhaps the most common type of plastic litter in our bays, waterways, and along our highways.

Here again – the logic of “If we don’t take any we won’t leave any” rings true. The best no-plastic solution I have found and use quite often is seen on the other side of the photo.

I fill my Yeti Rambler Jug, (gallon size) with ice water, sweet tea, and a variety of powdered drinks before leaving the house and drink them from my Yeti Rambler Tumbler. When I was a kid I loved black cherry Kool-Aid. Still do!

If you cannot kick the carbonated soda habit, try to at least purchase your beverages in aluminum rather than plastic containers. Best case scenario – plastic is going to end up in a landfill, whereas you can save the aluminum cans and turn them into cash.

I mentioned in the beginning that I’d pass on a tip or two for reducing dependence on plastic in everyday life – here goes!

Plastic shopping bags are everywhere you look. Blowing across parking lots, caught in weeds and brush along roadways and, unfortunately, we find them on shorelines. Yes, these bags can be handy for a multitude of uses after the groceries are unloaded, too often, though, they become litter. Best way to deal with them is “Just say no!”

In the photo above you see my cheery HEB cashier sacking my groceries in a reusable HEB shopping bag. Note the HEB logo art message – Take Care of Texas!