A rural Brainerd man, passionate about fishing and wanting kids to get into the sport, is combining those interests in making recycled fishing lures to distribute to youths across the state.
Larry Roland, a Lakes Area Bassmasters member, has made thousands of recycled soft bait fishing lures for the past 15 years. Soft baits are fishing lures made out of rubber, silicone or other soft plastics. Roland takes the plastic from discarded or damaged soft bait and creates new ones.
Roland, who has loved to fish since he was a child, said he began making lures from recycled soft plastic after helping longtime “Minnesota Bound” host Ron Schara with Schara’s Castaways for Kids program. Schara asked people to donate their old fishing rods and reels and Roland would take them home. Roland, with help from bass club members, would separate the good rods and reels from the bad ones, clean them up and return them to Schara, who would then donate them to needy youths in the Twin Cities metro area.
The bass clubs Roland is a member of include Lakes Area Bassmasters, a bass fishing club for learning how to catch bass; and the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation, which is under B.A.S.S. Nation, a global network of locally organized clubs in which members participate and support a range of activities including tournaments, conservation initiatives and youth programs.
Roland said through these clubs he began taking the recycled soft plastic of old fishing lures and creating new ones. He does this in his garage, separating the plastic by color, melting them and using 20 different molds to create new lures. He has several molds of bait including worms, frogs, creatures, Senko, wacky and jerk baits.
Roland is one of many people across the state who recycle plastic from old lures to make new ones. Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation rewards its members who turn in used soft plastic lures for recycling under what it calls its rebate program. According to a September 2020 article in the Bass Times, the program collected more than 125 pounds of soft plastic last year and most of the new lures are distributed to youths. About 50 lures can be made from 1 pound of plastic. Old lures are collected through many of the bass clubs in the state and its partners in the fishing industry.
Recycling the plastic from the lures is not only good for the environment, but also the fish. According to an In-Fisherman story published in the winter 2014-15 edition, soft baits discarded or lost in waterways can kill fish that digest them.
Roland said with the world in the midst of a pandemic, there is no better time than now to get out fishing.
“The reason I’m doing this is because I want to get more people and their families interested in fishing,” Roland said. “With all this COVID stuff, I want to get people away from things and let them know they can still get out and fish, get their kids out fishing, so they don’t have to be cooped up.”
Roland loves to fish and when he got married, his wife also had an interest in fishing. The two of them joined Bassin’ Couples, a bass club for couples to learn from each other. That love for fishing grew and Roland began fishing in the bass tournaments.
He continues to spread his love of fishing and, this holiday season, he is donating several of his recycled lures to the Toys For Tots program to spread the Christmas joy to as many youths as he can.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the recycled lures or connect with Roland can go to facebook.com/Brainerd-Lakes-Bassmasters.
Bass anglers are at home in Minnesota, where fishing is bigger than Paul Bunyan, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states on its website.
More than 2,000 Minnesota lakes support self-sustaining largemouth bass populations. More than 500 support smallmouth bass. They are also found in rivers like the Mississippi, St. Croix, Red Lake, Zumbro and Cloquet.
Spring and fall are good times to fish the shallows for bass, while deeper water is better during summer heat, the DNR stated. Weedlines and structures such as logs, tree branches dipping into the water and boulders are excellent spots to try.
Anglers can fish for smallmouth and largemouth bass starting each year on the same day as the walleye and northern pike fishing opener.
Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
***UPDATE: This story has been edited to correct the Bassmasters club Roland is a member of.