Sink or swim: East Texas fishermen 'tackle' lead issue

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - By Jamey Boyum - email
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SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Environmental Protection Agency has denied a petition to ban lead bullets, but is still looking into fishing tackle.

Many studies have shown that even low levels of lead can be toxic, and conservation groups have been trying to ban its use in the wild for years. Environmentalists say animals sometimes mistake lead pellets and sinkers for food.

Conservationists say millions of animals die of lead poisoning every year from ingesting lead that wouldn't be there if it were not for hunters and fishermen. Do East Texans think the regulation should sink or swim?

Chris McNamara tried a little mid-day bass fishing at Lake Tyler, and says options are good. "There could be other alternatives to the weight…steel shot…bird hunting already went to steel shot…so they could go to steel for sinkers," he stated.

Chris Fowler already uses steel shot when he hunts, but does he agree with fishing tackle regulation? "I don't really have a big problem with it," he said. "I mean, I started using the black steel weights several years ago, actually."

Steel is more expensive than lead, but under the right circumstances Fowler says it would be fine. "If they can keep the cost down I don't see it as being a big problem," he said.

David Stoner of Lake Tyler Marina and R. V. Park says it could change things for some of the old-school fishermen. "The manufacturing process is pretty simple with lead compared to the alternatives," Stoner explained. "The mom and pop shops that occasionally come around and I buy product from that make sinkers and lead products are going to have a tough time if it passes."

Fishermen say lead or steel fich are still going to take the bait.

Sinkers are not the only fishing gear which contains lead. Some lures and small nets need a little help getting underwater, too.

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