Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scented baits on AFLO Water-A Mattsabasser take on the debate

Every once in a while I dust off my e-mail box when a message pops in there. Someone asked me about scented plastic rules on Q and other Artificial Fly and Lure Only water. This is a larger debate than one may think as the regulations define artificial lures as one thing but then caveat that definition with additional terms. The definition of “bait” has been modified to include any type of scent attractant before or after the manufacturer process. Rather than go all poindexter on my blogilicious I will simply post the link to the actual definitions and rules. Top of page 4)

By the DOW’s definitions 90% of the plastic products made and sold are forbidden at any lake, stream or puddle listed as A.F.L.O. “Heck, I guess we might as well be fishing with worms or salmon eggs as far as the CDOW is concerned.” Is how a lot of us bassers view this regulation. At first this rule change made me steaming mad. Now I have come to terms with something that us “plastic using bassers” have no control over. Just for fodder I will submit my own personal vantage, debate and even rant on the issue. For some it will be enlightening and for others it may just stir the pot of confusion a little more.

Note: the states that are primarily fly fishing/trout based are or have adopted this definition. States that are warm water based do not deem fishing with plastic lures as heinous or evil.

What really is the issue here?

To me the real issue is this: Are you fishing with plastic or are you fishing with scent and salt? If the lure is all scent and salt then what are you really doing so “artificial”? A lot of plastics are not heavily salted and scented so what is with all the hassle?

Then they told me what happened. A bunch of guys started slamming big fish at the Dream Stream, Taylor River and a few other AFLO/Gold Medal spots with scented/salted plastics. Fly guys pretty much went ape-#$%^. So then they clamped down on plastic use on AFLO waters and the bass guys went nuts. See how complicated these matters can get?”

Enforcement is subject by each individual ranger and a second part of the problem. In most cases the rangers that govern over our metro warm water fisheries are reasonable in regards to plastic use. What they are really looking for are bait dunkers and troublemakers. They check everyone at the Q with eye contact first and not afraid to take things to the level of “full cavity search” if needed. Other places, not so much and they suffer for it. As I said before, each ranger and even body of water is different. Bottom line: If I think I am going to get hassled by the Gestapo, my plastics are left home or I use the non-scented stuff. In most cases there is no hassle unless you are fishing something so goopy and stinky that they practically smell you coming. Sadly one or two rangers view any plastic bait right there with that smooshy-stinko worm so consider yourself forewarned.

So what is the answer?

Modifying the rule with an altitude restriction for state/public waters similar to minnows would release 90% of the backlash as this rule eliminates a huge section of the warmwater fishing tactics considered a mainstay in the AFLO bass community. It’s not so much that we can’t go with other lures but the whole thing just smacks of elitism. The altitude restriction would also allow a heavy hand in the jurisdiction they wanted this rule to focus on in the first place.

It would also help a lot if manufacturers would list the amount/percentage of salt and scent on their packaging. This way management officials would see that most of this stuff isn’t coated, dunked or dipped in anything. It’s a soft PVC material and even more artificial than those tied horsehairs and bird feathers are.

Gulp baits (by the way) ARE in my opinion “bait”. The mold is not from PVC plastic but a synthesized material triple-loaded with scent. Once again the use of this product is subject by local enforcement at Q and PX. This is the product most of the rangers are looking for (once again, my opinion). Read the bottom part of the description page from the actual maker. It really is just like fishing with power bait mashed into a grub or worm shape, not PVC like other plastics. (Sorry about the product slam there but it goes along with the subject.)

Madman makes a killer 100% no scent product. I have purchased and used these in places where my beloved senkos don't pass the snuff test by rangers. Based out of Utah, Madman has some versatile products. Make sure you keep the original packaging and labels with the product to show the rangers. Never had a problem with this stuff anywhere and virtually 100% Gestapo free. The link to their website is listed below.

For the record: I use live bait every year when teaching youngsters and introducing newcomers to the sport. Please do not take this blog as an attack against people that use live bait. There is a place for almost all angling in Colorado. Some waters are more precious and deserve some additional protection. All places deserve our respect when we enter them. So many other places are made with easy access and ample opportunity to learn and love the sport as much as fishing nuts like me. Those places are open to all kinds of recreation and that is good for all…in moderation. Sadly those places show the signs of impact. That is why we have places where the rules are more strict. Do you see the point I am trying to make here?

My final thoughts all wrapped up in a Jerry Springer show closing with half backspin…

Report the violators and cherish the AFLO folks…even if they use plastic. Every licensed angler is precious as it adds to the overall revenue base that funds public water. Be careful where you draw the lines as you will make more enemies than allies. Heck, I didn’t know anything about fishing until someone taught me. Maybe that is all the next person needs to open a whole new world of fishing. The level where both fish and angler are rewarded from the experience through respect and preservation. Fishing is good in Colorado but could be so much better.

Good luck and good fishing.

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