Rural Missouri - July 2011 - (Page 32)
N E I G H B O R S
by Jason Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org
rom the seat of his johnboat, Bill Kraemer could see something odd ﬂoating in the water ahead. The shape bobbed up and down, just breaking the surface, but Bill couldn’t quite make it out. As he paddled closer, though, the mystery unraveled. Bill’s heart sank. The shape wasn’t a piece of driftwood or tangle of ﬂoating weeds. Instead, it was a duck that had made the unfortunate and fatal choice of attempting to make a meal of a ﬁshing lure that had been lost by an angler. “The poor thing had one treble hook through its bill and another through the webbing on one foot,” recalls the Citizens Electric member from Ste. Genevieve. “It had drowned trying to free itself. “It got me thinking. How many people went by Ste. Genevieve • that lure? It’s just so easy to pick this stuff up.” In the decade or so since encountering the unfortunate fowl, Bill has become a one-man ﬁshing tackle clean-up crew. Whether he’s on the backwaters of the Mississippi River or a local lake, pond, creek or stream, Bill is always on the lookout for the bobbers, lures and jigs that others leave behind. An avid outdoorsman, Bill tries to get out at least twice each week until winter’s grip ﬁnally freezes over his favorite ﬁshing spots. He guesses that he spends half of his time with rod and reel in hand and the other half ﬁshing out lures from trees and snags. “I’ll ﬁsh an area, and I’ll see a lure hanging,” explains Bill, a former deputy sheriff who has worked at Tower Rock Stone Company in Ste. Genevieve for the past 17 years. “I’ll ﬁsh that area real good, then I’ll paddle over and grab the lure. Then, I’ll go ﬁsh some more. I don’t disturb the water until I’m done ﬁshing it.” The 54-year-old isn’t necessarily pointing ﬁngers at his fellow anglers, but he does wonder why so much tackle — especially expensive lures — gets left behind. “Hey, accidents happen. Anyone who ﬁshes has lost tackle. I’ve lost tackle,” he says. “But I know what’s happened. People get into a crappie bed or get a bite from a bass, and they’ll break their line. Well, rather than going and getting it, they just tie another one on and keep ﬁshing because they don’t want to disturb the ﬁsh.” Bill says it’s not uncommon to ﬁnd three or four bobbers hanging from the same tree — all with hooks dangling in the breeze below them. On one particular local lake, he’s dubbed a stretch of shoreline as “Lure Lane” because invariably he’ll ﬁnd tackle there after a windy weekend. In the early years of his clean-up crusade, Bill ﬁshed from a johnboat and would throw away the trash once he returned to shore. About four years ago, he transitioned to a 14.5-foot-long kayak; and in 2008, he started keeping the ﬁshing tackle he found, though he doesn’t ﬁsh with it himself or sell it to others.
Bill Kraemer poses with more than 1,000 bobbers, lures and jigs he’s pulled from Missouri waterways in the past three years. The 54-year-old is usually on the water at least twice a week, ﬁshing and cleaning up after others.
Ste. Genevieve angler cleans up what others leave behind
It took Bill about a year and a half to ﬁll a 2-gallon jug with discarded tackle. It only took him a year to ﬁll the second. His collection now comprises more than 1,000 pieces. In addition to the tackle, Bill has retrieved a few other items he keeps in the collection, including a handful of cigarette lighters, a pocketknife, a few golf balls and — of all things — a yo-yo. When viewed collectively, the discarded tackle is a grim reminder of how deadly the barbed baits can be. “Look at the teeth marks in that one,” says Bill, picking up a crankbait with a large chunk taken out of its back. “It looks like a ﬁsh and smells like a ﬁsh, and some raccoon or opossum tried eating it. Look how close that animal came to being hooked.” While retrieving lost tackle is a noble pastime, it isn’t without its hazards. Rusty hooks ensure that Bill keeps current on his tetanus shot. Occasionally, he’ll have to contend with a snake that’s hanging out in the same branch as the lure. He carries a pair of scissors in his kayak to cut away as much bacterialaden ﬁshing line as he can without risking injury. “I’ve cut myself on monoﬁlament. Boy, that takes forever to heal because that line is nasty,” he says. “I wonder how many thousands of miles of line are down there and how many tons of lead weight are sitting on the bottom.” Bill says his wife, Sue, is his biggest supporter. “She jokes that there will never be a shortage of bobbers in the Kraemer household.” While he’s never found another animal that has died from trying to eat a lure, Bill is certain it happens quite frequently. “It may just be a bobber, but it’s a bobber with a hook on it with a worm hanging from a tree. To a bird, that’s a snack,” he says. “Now, take that one bobber times a thousand. What a horrible way to go.” When his ﬁshing waters freeze over, Bill takes to the shoreline. A hike around a local lake this past winter yielded nearly 75 pieces of tackle. “I’ve taken a bunch of tackle out of circulation and hopefully, I’ve saved at least one animal’s life,” he says. “If I’ve saved just one, I’ve made a difference.” You may contact Bill by writing to wlkraemer@ charter.net or 211 St. Jude Dr., Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2011
Rural Missouri - July 2011
Table of Contents
Raising the Great White Arabia
Now showing: rural broadband
Out of the Way Eats
The changing tide
Hearth and Home
Sting of relief
Rural Missouri - July 2011