Yes, we have reached our limit of kayaking volunteers, but you can still help at Lake Hodges. The bank fishing areas are a constant source of fishing line and litter. And they are easily accessible on foot.
Just this morning Janet and I went for a hike along the Del Dios shore. At the end of our hike we dropped down to do a beach walk. We didn’t have a bag, so we could not bring back the trash, just the fishing line. Here is what we found on the beach in about 15 minutes:
There’s a lot more line there than it looks like in the photo!
That bright bluish looking line was a trotline. It was left tied to a branch at the waterline and had a baited treble hook on the other end. It was just left there and it is lucky we found it before a grebe did. Trotline fishing is illegal and we find a lot of trotlines at the lake. We’ve also found at least one bird caught on a trotline hook that some illegal fisherman just left out there.
You can do bank walks like this, too. Take an hour out of your day, come down with a couple of those reusable plastic grocery bags, and walk the shore. Take your time and enjoy being there. You may see the shorebirds that are returning south from their summertime breeding grounds, you will certainly see our year-round birds on the shore and in the water, and you will certainly experience the peace that can be felt when you amble along the shoreline.
You will also experience the pride of knowing that the lake shore looks cleaner, more beautiful and is much safer for birds and wildlife than it was before you came. So give it a try.
I am happy to say that we’ve got about all of the kayaks we can manage for the time being. There are a couple of new volunteers still in the process of signing up, but the lake manager has asked me to limit it to the current number of boats, so I will not be needing any more volunteers. Every organization experiences attrition, so we may be in need of more help next spring.
The group of volunteers we have managed to recruit are really awesome. I was expecting a lot of people who just wanted more access to the lake for their kayaking. What we’ve got is 15 people whose highest priority is the birds, though most are also very happy to be using their kayaks to work from. With so many people, the lake is remaining very clean and we are able to keep up with newly deposited fishing line in a much more timely manner than we could earlier in the year.
Back in June I got really desperate. We were just one boat trying to keep up with quite a few miles of shoreline. And spring is especially hard because there are so many young birds getting into trouble. So I greatly expanded my efforts to get help. And it worked! We now have 10 boats and 13 registered volunteers. Everyone’s schedule is different, but most have been able to get out there at least weekly. The difference is apparent. We always find fishing line and litter out there and we probably always will. But we are coming back with a lot less each time. Especially from the heavily fished areas where the number of boats have allowed us to really focus our attention.
Thanks to everyone who has volunteered. We could still use some more pedal-drive boats because they have the range to go to the ends of the lake and work for two or three hours and come back without too much difficulty. If you would like the opportunity to use your kayak to make a real difference to the lives of the birds and wildlife around Lake Hodges, please contact me.
And if you are interested in starting a program like this at your lake or reservoir or bayou, or wherever you see lots of fishing, please contact me, too.