Let wildlife off the hook — clean up your trash this fishing season

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Trout season opens statewide on Saturday, and thousands of anglers will descend on the waterways of the Lehigh Valley to try their luck and test their skill.

Yet fishing season also brings with it an increase in pollution in and around our lakes, rivers and streams. Anglers often leave behind discarded fishing line, bait tins, bottles and cans, tackle and more.

With just a few simple steps, you can help keep our waterways clean — and protect the animals and plants that call these places home.

Fishing line poses a threat to all wildlife. Wildlife, including fish, turtles and waterfowl, can get tangled in it or ingest it. Even worse, it lasts for

many years, posing a long-term threat.

One way to keep your line from fouling the water — and land — around your favorite fishing hole is managing snags properly. Instead of cutting a tangled line near the reel, point the tip of the rod at the spot in which it is snagged, then tighten up on the drag, take up slack on the line, and then pull until the line breaks. It should break closer to the point at which it’s snagged — leaving much less line behind. 

Courtesy Pa Fish and Boat Commission

Courtesy Pa Fish and Boat Commission

If you can safely reach a line that’s tangled in trees or bushes, don’t leave it behind — untangle it and dispose of it properly.

Remember to take all trash with you: If you bring it in, trek it back out. Plastic bags, six-pack rings and more can also snag wildlife. If you do enjoy a six pack of any type, cut the rings of the plastic six-pack holder before properly disposing of it. This ensures an animal can’t become snared.

Cigarette butts are litter, too — and they’re toxic not only to animals, they release chemicals into the water, too. It’s unlawful to litter in Pennsylvania, and that includes cigarette butts.

You can also help by cleaning up litter left behind by others. Take a bag along and use it to stow trash you find on your trip.

This fishing season, keep our waterways clean. Mother Nature will thank you.