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INTO THE WILD: The Biodegradable Soft Bait Revolution & Pine Tree Rifle Club to sponsor sheriff’s K-9 fundraiser

The anticipation grew as I filleted the 18-inch splake taken earlier in the day through the ice on West Caroga Lake. I was looking forward to cooking the firm and bright pink fillet in butter, lemon, and a bit of seasoning. As I open up the fish, I was taken aback in disgust by the unusually pale, white, and mealy flesh of the trout. I opened up the stomach of the fish to see what it was eating to cause the abnormality. Instead of finding smelt and other bait fish, I found a 1.5-inch chunk of plastic bass bait lodged, and blocking its digestive tract. Is this uncommon? No, many fishermen find soft plastic baits in the digestive tracts of Caroga Lake splake and in fish in other lakes too, an all-too-common problem.

Soft plastics are used primarily by bass fisherman during the open water season and they are rigged in many different ways to a catch fish. Unfortunately, pieces of the bait break off when a fish strikes, or they are tossed over the side of the boat as the bait gets torn up from numerous casts and snags and it’s no longer useful. Does the bait dissolve over time? No, like all plastics used in everyday use, they are eternal … here forever. They may break down into smaller pieces, but they are still there, in our water and in our soil.

In recent years, the need to produce biodegradable fishing baits has become the focus of a few companies. One right here in New York is Eco-Logical Lure Products out of Syracuse. A few years ago, Victor LaRegina, Jr. and his girlfriend Yvonne Yip, saw the need for a bait that would not pollute our waters or harm fish. Victor is a former ESF Aquatic Fisheries Biologist graduate who wanted to start a career that “followed his passion for fishing and something he could make better.” As a result of his entrepreneurial spirit and love for fishing, he created with Yvonne, Eco-Logical Lures, a line of soft baits that are completely void of plastics and are 100 percent biodegradable from their kitchen. What started as a part-time hobby, has turned into a full-time career for the young couple. Yvonne joined up with Victor after 20 years apart due to her family moving to the west coast. As a result of the pandemic, they reunited on-line and she moved out east. Victor put a fishing pole in her hand and since the first outing together, she was hooked on fishing, and Victor. She is an English major with a strong background in communication, so these two make the perfect duo for business. She thought that fishing was a male dominated sport and didn’t think she’d like it. After a short time, she has since realized that females and families represent a large proportion of the sport and she’s become an avid angler.

Victor says he saw the necessity for biodegradable baits as plastics are polluting our waters, harming fish and the amount of plastic along streams and lakes is dieheartening. They started the long process of producing baits through two years of trial and error and have come up with a “recipe” that produces a bait that is flexible, durable, and has the action to entice fish. The baits last through hours of fishing and the prototypes catch multiple fish before the need to replace it. This is consistent with plastic baits currently sold worldwide. He is currently making new styles of baits and at my request, a white swimbait for lake trout. I will be trying these out on Canada, Schroon, and Lake George this winter. I love the idea of degradable baits and look forward to seeing them produce this winter.

You can catch the latest Eco-Logical Lure product line through facebook, or email them at Ecologicallures@gmail.com. The products will be showcased soon on a website that is being developed and eventually through Amazon and other retail outlets.

Annual ride to benefit FCSO K-9 Units

Pine Tree Rifle Club will be sponsoring the 12th Annual K-9 Ride to support the Fulton County Sheriff’s K-9 Units. Over 12 years ago it came to the attention of club President Paul Catucci that the K-9 units are not funded by the state or the county, and they need help. As a result, the PTRC K-9 Ride was formed to raise money for the dogs and their handlers. It is up to the dog’s owner/handler to pay for vet care, feed, and care for their service dog. Over the 12 years, the ride has raised over $100,000 dollars for the K-9 units. Last year’s ride was cancelled but $7,000 was still raised because good people know how important the K-9’s are to our police force.

The 12th annual ride will start on Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. from the Pine Tree Rifle Club parking lot. The ride will cover 70 miles through the southern Adirondacks and participants get lunch, dinner, and get a commemorative pin. The cost is $20 for a rider and $10 for a passenger. L&M Entertainment will be covering the event at the end of the day to keep the party going and there will be raffles and Chinese auctions. One hundred percentof the proceeds benefit the K-9’s of the Fulton County Sherriff’s Dept. To get more information, go to the Pine Tree Rifle Club facebook page, or call either (518) 883-8605 or (518) 649-7617. Even if you don’t ride, donations are accepted for this great cause.

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