Do you use soft plastic lures?
I do! I fish for salmon, steelhead, and bass and I use soft plastic lures a lot. They’re a particularly easy way to attract fish; they’re very life-like. For beginning anglers, a soft bait either under a jig or on a bobber, is a really interesting, productive way to learn to catch fish.
Were you aware that Maine threatened to ban soft plastic lures two years ago?
Yes, I found out about it from sources at the American Sportfishing Association. Pure Fishing is the world’s largest fishing tackle manufacturer and we make a lot of soft baits, including Berkley. We were alarmed at what we considered an unjustified, potential ban of a really important part of the fishing gear spectrum, so we offered our assistance and insight on Maine’s proposal.
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?
It would be very significant for our business. If Maine banned soft baits, we would expect some other states, particularly in the northeast, and some environmental groups to take this whole thing a lot more seriously. Pure Fishing has many brands, but Berkley is the centerpiece, and soft baits are the centerpiece of Berkley. We’re talking about a major impact on our industry. In our opinion, it is unnecessary and unjustified to ban soft baits. We agree with Maine that it’s primarily a litter issue. Like all other litter, you don’t ban the litter; you educate people not to throw it out the window.
What would your company be willing to do to stop a ban?
We support the sportfishing industry as a whole launching an education campaign on the importance of properly disposing of soft plastic baits. Our company is happy to participate as a technical advisor. At Berkley labs, in developing soft baits, we have fed these to fish in aquariums and small ponds. We’ve found no problem with lab-tested fish nor do we have evidence of soft baits being a danger to fish in the wild. They regurgitate or pass baits very easily.
Do you have any other comments?
Anglers want to do the right thing. I don’t think anglers always think about the impacts of baits at the bottom of the stream. Education is the right way to go.