Do­nate your Christ­mas tree to boost an­gling ac­tion

The Saline Courier - - COMICS - Spe­cial to The Saline Courier

LIT­TLE ROCK — In­stead of set­ting your used Christ­mas tree by the curb the day af­ter Christ­mas, why not give it a sec­ond life as fish habi­tat in your lo­cal lake? The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion has drop-off lo­ca­tions across the state to leave your tree for an an­gler to use in their next brush­pile.

Un­like ar­ti­fi­cial trees that get boxed up and stuffed in the at­tic, real Christ­mas trees must be dis­carded, but that doesn’t mean you have to just toss it out like trash. There’s still a lot of po­ten­tial in those branches for bait­fish and young sport fish to hide from preda­tors, and like­wise for larger fish to wait and am­bush prey.

AGFC Christ­mas tree dropoff lo­ca­tions work sort of like a take-a-penny, leave-a-penny tray at a cash regis­ter. Any­one can drop off their tree, and any­one is wel­come to take them to sink their own brush­piles. An­glers sink­ing brush should call ahead to make sure sink­ing brush is al­lowed in the body of wa­ter where they want to sink the trees. Some wa­ter-sup­ply reser­voirs and other lakes have reg­u­la­tions to pre­vent dump­ing of brush with­out per­mis­sion.

“Nearly all Agfc-owned lakes were cre­ated for fish­ing, and brush­piles from the Christ­mas trees are wel­come in those,” AGFC Habi­tat Bi­ol­o­gist Cody Wy­att said. “But no ar­ti­fi­cial trees should be used. The types of plas­tics and ma­te­ri­als used in those trees may cause is­sues with wa­ter qual­ity in the long term.”

An­glers also should make sure all or­na­ments, lights and tin­sel are re­moved from the tree be­fore sink­ing. Not only do they carry the same sort of en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem, they even­tu­ally sep­a­rate from the tree and be­come trash that can en­tan­gle fish­ing lures, mo­tors and wildlife.

“We sink our brush­piles with stan­dard cin­der blocks tied to the tree with ei­ther para­chute cord or heavy bal­ing wire,” Wy­att said. “These ma­te­ri­als last for an ex­tremely long time and keep the tree an­chored to one spot.”

Wy­att says Christ­mas trees are rel­a­tively short-term habi­tat be­cause they don’t have much thick woody ma­te­rial, but they can be gath­ered in clus­ters eas­ily and sunk in large groups.

“You want to have a bunch of main stems in one spot if you can do it,” Wy­att said. “That way the fish at­trac­tor will draw fish even af­ter all the smaller branches are gone. Good an­glers usu­ally use these Christ­mas trees to freshen up pro­duc­tive at­trac­tor sites ev­ery year to keep the fish com­ing back. All those main trunks will con­tinue to serve as cover for many years while new brush gives plenty of smaller spa­ces for bait­fish to hide.”

Trees can be dropped off at any of the fol­low­ing lo­ca­tions un­til the end of Jan­uary:

Cen­tral Arkansas

Arkansas River – Sim­mons (for­merly Ver­i­zon) Ac­cess be­neath the I-30 Bridge

Cox Creek Lake – Cox Creek Lake Pub­lic Ac­cess

Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (He­ber Springs), Devils Fork Recre­ation Area and Choctaw Recre­ation Area (Choctaw-clin­ton)

Lake Con­way – Lawrence Land­ing Ac­cess

Har­ris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Ac­cess

Lake Over­cup – Lake Over­cup Land­ing

Lake Bar­nett – Reed Ac­cess Lake Hamil­ton – An­drew Hulsey State Fish Hatch­ery Ac­cess Area

East Arkansas

Cook’s Lake – Pot­latch Con­ser­va­tion Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter at 625 Cook’s Lake Road, Cass­coe, or the bus lot across from Grand Av­enue United

Methodist Church in Stuttgart

North­east Arkansas

Jones­boro – Craig­head For­est Park Lake boat ramp

Lake Bono – Boat Ramp Ac­cess

Lake Wal­cott – Crowley’s Ridge State Park Boat Ramp Ac­cess

North­west Arkansas

Beaver Lake – High­way 12 Ac­cess and AGFC Don Ro­ufa High­way 412 Ac­cess

Lake Elm­dale – Boat Ramp Ac­cess

Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Ac­cess

Crys­tal Lake – Boat Ramp Ac­cess

South­east Arkansas

Lake Chicot – Con­nerly Bayou Ac­cess Area

Lake Mon­ti­cello – Hunger Run Ac­cess

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