What Could Maine's "Rubber Lure" Ban Mean for the Future of Fishing?

By Joe Cermele

In case you haven't heard, Maine is trying to pass a bill that would ban the use of "rubber lures" throughout the state. At this time, however, what constitutes a "rubber lure" has not yet been defined. The fishing world assumes this refers to soft-plastic lures, and I can't imagine that it wouldn't. If you read this article from 2009 on Examiner.com, you'll learn that Maine is claiming discarded soft-plastic lures are potentially harming the environment because it can take "more than 200 years" for them to break down, and they have not-so-good effects on fish that ingest them. What worries me is not the ban of these lures in just one state, but the ideas the passing of this bill could put in the heads of the powers that be in other states.

As I write this, I keep checking the Net for the outcome of a public hearing that was supposedly held in Maine yesterday regarding this issue. Right now there is nothing new to report. You can read more about this hearing on the website of Bassmasters.

I (along with countless other anglers) am hoping it gets knocked down. I'm certainly not saying that discarded plastics don't have an ill effect on fish or the environment, but I don't believe they cause so many problems that they need to be banned. These lures have been around since the 1950s. In approximately 63 years, this has yet to become a big issue. I'm a firm believer that once an inch is given in one state, it opens the floor for other states to take miles and miles. We've already seen that snowball effect with lead bans. I happen to not disagree with lead bans, especially on smaller bodies of water, but it's much easier to substitute a lead jighead than the jig body. You don't need me to tell you how limited our arsenals would be if you took soft-plastics out.

Discarded mono isn't good, either, but it happens all the time. Should that be banned? And what about discarded hooks? Surely there is a scientist out there that will find some harmful effect of the metal degrading in the water. Next it'll be dry-fly floatant because that pollutes the rivers. Soft-plastic lures are far from the only chemically made, synthetic tackle elements that can end up in the water that a fish could potentially eat. So where does it stop?