no avatar

Generations will be cleaning up after us

Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer • Updated Oct 15, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Six hundred years from now, someone may trip over that tangle of monofilament line you discarded at the lake the other day, a bird could get snared in it, or it might foul a boat propeller.

Six hundred years is how long it takes for monofilament fishing line to degrade, according to a report from the National Parks Service and the Audubon Society.

Some other factoids about the length of litter disintegration, carried in the current edition of Mid-South Hunting & Fishing Magazine:

+ Paper products (napkins, cups, etc.): 2-6 weeks

+ Agricultural products (vegetables, grains, etc.): 2-6 weeks

+ Waxed milk cartons: 3 months

+ Cotton rope: 3-14 months

+ Plywood: 1-3 years

+ Wool socks: 1-5 years

+ Cigarette butts: 1-5 years

+ Plastic bags: 10-20 years

+ Rubber shoe soles: 50-80 years

+ Tin cans: 50 years

+ Plastic bobber or buoys: 80 years

+ Foam cups: 50 years

+ Aluminum cans: 80-200 years

+ Disposable diapers: 450 years

+ Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years

+ Monofilament fishing line: 600 years

+ Glass containers: centuries

Think about it: much of the litter and clutter we leave behind will impact our grandchildren's grandchildren.

Monofilament fishing line is especially insidious. It's almost always discarded in or around our waterways, making it not only unsightly but unsafe.

If you fish on the bank below any dam, you'll have to be careful to avoid tripping over coils of discarded line. It makes for treacherous walking, and can be a death trap for wildlife.

Last spring I was fishing in Stones River below Percy Priest Dam when a disturbance on the opposite bank caught my attention. It was a flopping heron, its legs entangled in fishing line. I was preparing to go over and attempt to cut it free when some nearby joggers beat me to it. If the bird had been snarled in a more remote area it would have died.

Probably every boater has had to clear tangles of monofilament from a motor. Such discarded line in the water is a nuisance for boaters and treacherous for swimmers and water skiers.

Lebanon fishing guide Jim Duckworth carries a container on his boat for the disposal of used fishing line. He doesn't permit to be tossed overboard. Every fisherman should do likewise with line and other refuse.

Stash the trash. It could prevent problems for wildlife and fellow outdoorsmen for a long time to come.

Recommended for You