Powerbait Not the Problem
Inside the Outdoors, April 24
, 2015

It’s been said many a time, it just takes one person to distort facts and pass them on. That’s how rumors begin. Such was the case recently when I received a number of emails stating, “I hear the Fish Commission’s going to outlaw Powerbait because it’s killing the fish.”

Making sure I had all the evidence I needed before writing this column, I first contacted Eric Levis, press secretary to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in Harrisburg. He wanted to know upon emailing me back, “Is there any scientific fact that Powerbait is harmful?”

I then received word from Rick Lorson, biologist for the PFBC in Somerset’s Southwest office. When I asked him the same question I ask Levis, virtually I received the same answer. “There is no ban in progress nor will there be one. The problem is not with the Powerbait,” he said, but with the anglers themselves who insist on pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth instead of cutting the line. In so do, they are killing the fish.”

Lorson stated, “Use hemostats to get the hooks out if they can be reached. Stick them as far down as possible and carefully work the hooks loose until they come out. If that’s impossible, cut the line.”

Many years ago when I was fishing at Keystone Power Dam, Cambria County, did I hook into a bass. When I got it into the boat, I discovered that not only did I catch a fish that was previously hooked, but had its original line attached to the hook with both visible in its mouth.

Here’s a key observation that left a lasting impression on me. If I had not caught this fish, over time the acidity from this aquatic species would have eaten through the metal allowing part of the hook to dislodge from the organism whereby the line and front part of the hook would have been freed.

In other words, if one cuts the line close to the hook and returns the fish back to the waters, there is a good chance the hook will dissolve in time and the fish can live as long as time allots.

Since I have yet to use the ‘sit and wait approach’ while fishing with Powerbait, I have left that to the still fishermen and women. Just for the record, my joy comes from catching bluegill using bits of live bait on rigs. I surely get my money’s worth of excitement as a senior citizen and great meals to follow. What could be more perfect together, now tell me?

I did do a little research on the subject of using the ‘pasty’ substance for those who want to further their education using these concoctions.

Turning to the website www.landbigfish.com, Trevor Kugler wrote an article, ‘How to Use Powerbait to Catch Trout.’

He pointed out that fish, in this case, trout, can see thicker line, and will shy away from the morsel of enticement if it figures things aren’t natural. “Trout have a very keen eyesight,” he said, “which means they can see your fishing line under water.” Here is the part that I couldn’t agree with more. “I personally use nothing heavier than four-pound test.”

An angler from one of my last columns promoted the usage of two-pound test for the simple reason stated above. He said one can catch fish weighing up to six pounds if one is careful and doesn’t horse the fish in. Let it tire and it’s yours, but you have to be patient. Some lines have stretch ability meaning one can gauge if he is tugging too hard. A good motto to follow is play it out and pull it in. In most cases, it will work every time, but you have to be patient.

Kugler stated, “The first thing to understand about Powerbait is that it must float. Make sure that the variety you are using is a floating trout bait. The floating aspect is critical, because we want our offering to be floating off the bottom, above any underwater debris.”

When fishing it in lakes, he recommends first slipping on a one-quarter to one-half ounce egg sinker. “Now tie on a small barrel swivel (size 10 or 12) to act as a ‘stopper. On the opposite end of the barrel swivel, tie on a set of pre-tied hooks (preferably size 8 or 10). Add enough Powerbait to cover each hook. Cast out your rig, letting it sink. Reel in the line’s slack until it is taught.

“The general rule, Kugler said, “is to let it set for 45 minutes. If nothing happens, bring it in and check it out. Re-bait if necessary and return it to the water.”

Now there is a rule worth considering.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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