For Fishermen, Lead Poses Bait Debate

Toxic weights divide commercial, recreational anglers
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2008 1:21 PM CDT
The controversial "yo-yoing" method is dividing fishermen going after striped bass.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – As conservation efforts have boosted the fish's population levels, competitive fishing for striped bass has become a thriving sport in Massachusetts. The fish’s importance to both commercial and recreational fishermen is bringing a controversial baiting tactic into renewed dispute. The Wall Street Journal examines “yo-yoing,” which uses small baitfish stuffed with lead weights, raising questions of both health and fairness.

Not only is yo-yoing legal, but "you've got to do that in order to catch the fish," says one commercial fisherman. But critics complain that the lead-tainted fish are dangerous, and the strategy undermines fair play among sport anglers. One expresses a desire for a tactic "that doesn't pollute the environment, that doesn't contaminate fish and doesn't represent a health hazard to the consumer."