Dave Barnes has been involved in the bass fraternity in Maine since 1976. He started the Maine BASS Federation and served as president for 25 years. Today he runs fishing tournaments and for business-related and personal reasons, he has fought hard against the ban on soft baits.
Do you use soft plastic lures?
Yes, I do. I fish about 170 days per year and probably every time I fish I use soft plastics in one form or another. My favorite is a plastic worm jig.
Were you aware the state of Maine threatened to ban soft plastic lures two years ago?
I am well aware of it. I went to the state legislature and talked about soft plastic baits both from both the environmental and economic aspects. In my opinion, 75-80 percent of fishermen throw their baits in their boats and not in the lake, but we can always do better. The Bass Federation embarked on our bait and line disposal project several years ago and we’re stepping that up even more this year.
What would you be willing to do to stop a ban?
I continue to be on the forefront of fighting the soft plastics lure ban. I go to state legislative hearings and I encourage Bass Federation’s anglers to attend and speak up. Generally, 90 percent of the people in the room are against the ban. In my mind, this is a litter problem. Throughout the country, departments need to post how to dispose of soft plastics and monofilament lines in their fishing regulations books. That way, when people buy a license and review the law book, they will see that improper disposal is detrimental to not only fish and wildlife but also the environment.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sees soft plastics as a litter issue, but there is still a threat of a total ban. If this occurred, how would you be affected?
A ban would hurt my guide business and Maine’s economic recovery. All anglers need to be more aware of the consequences of their actions out on the water. While fishing, you are going to lose some lures to the fish but it becomes a litter problem when you start throwing your plastic worms in the water.
Do you have any other comments?
Sportsmen need to get a handle on litter issues. Don’t throw your trash in the water and if you see some in the water, pick it up. These are things we can do to show that we are concerned about the sport, our fellow fishermen, and the environment itself.