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Fish entrails in at least 25-foot deep water?

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So, I've been told that fish entrails must be disposed of at least 100 yards away from a water source or in water at least 25 feet deep. Are they really that toxic? I mean, human waste is only 200 feet away from a water source. We have to go 50% farther to dispose of fish guts?


What's this about 25' deep water, how does that have an affect?

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Check out the detailed explanation here.


http://leavenotracecommunity.blogspot.com/2009/07/fish-guts.htmlSpecial care needs to be taken when dealing with fish entrails. Many anglers follow the tradition of scattering entrails in the woods or out on rocks for wildlife, but this practice is no longer recommended. Today, the best disposal methods are determined by a number of factors including how long you will be out fishing, whether bears live in the area, if whirling disease is a concern, and what the local regulations dictate.


When entrails are tossed into the woods, they attract wildlife. Animals and birds have been observed following both hunters and anglers in hopes of obtaining a free lunch of guts. These animals lose their natural wariness of people and can become a nuisance or worse. Entrails that are not eaten by wildlife will rot and smell and make the area undesirable for those who visit after you, so please do not leave fish guts dangling in the bushes or sitting out on a rock. The best possible way to dispose of fish entrailsas with any kind of wasteis to pack them outif you cant pack out your fish entrails, you have a number of other options such as burial, deep water deposition or moving water deposition.

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"When entrails are tossed into the woods, they attract wildlife."


I hate to tell them this, but wildlife live in the woods year round and they roam freely thru it. They come down to the water to drink and catch dinner whether we were there or not.

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I think the usual reason for not attracting wildlife is that we don't want to habituate them to coming to common camping areas to look for food. So assuming that you are hiking on a trail, or using a semi-regular campsite, you may find the advice reasonable. If you are out in the backcountry in the middle of nowhere I'd think there would be less concern about letting the animals eat the entrails.

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I would never throw fish guts into the water because of eutrophication; many fish and other aquatic critters live near the bottom.

Gather them up at your fish cleaning site, put them in a paper sack lined with dead leaves or pine needles, etc, canoe back to camp, and burn them.

The purist approach is to find a rock or reef well offshore, place them on the rock for the birds or turtles to eat.

I feel certain that the 25 ft. limit was so passers by wouldn't be able to see them

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Oak Tree,


Agreed. However, not everyone is as careful as you or I would be in a common camping area about the handling of food. I never go to a campground under the assumption that people before me used a cooking area away from the tents and food suspended from trees in another area. Our SM has very strict rules about food in tents or in summer camp sites. 99% of the places we camp have no bears, but once in a great while like this past weekend, we venture across the border into Arkansas where they do have bears. The snickers bar you enjoyed last year before going to bed could get someone hurt this year. At summer camp, the thinking is that snacks around camp invites mice which invites snakes. We have a variety of venomous snakes around here.


I guess it depends on the fishing scenario. If you are literally camping right down on the waters edge and walking out of your tent to wet a line, you'd be kind of foolish to throw the guts on the rocks or into the trees next to your campsite. But I still maintain that wildlife are all around us when we are in camp and we are just unaware. They use the lake, stream, river, pond, etc. as a watering hole and a food source regardless of whethewr we are tossing guts around.

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Cool, I learned a new word today, "eutrophication". So, despite any eutrophic concerns (Did I use that word correctly there, eutrophic concerns?), what does the 25-foot deep water have to do with it? Is that just to "ensure" that "more" wild animals than usual don't come around the area looking to eat the guts? If I swim out to 25' deep water, "drop trousers" and do my business, do I not have to bother with a cat hole, is there some sort of extra breakdown process going on in "deep" water? If there's a 300' wide marshy lake that doesn't get deeper than 5', can I not dispose of entrails in the center, must I bury them in that case?


It's been years since I fished. Despite living next to a lake and formerly going out fishing regularly when I was a kid, even taking my fishing pole out on a scout trip to the Sierra's, I have never caught a fish in my life. That's probably why I've sort of lost my taste for fishing now, but that 25' deep water thing seemed to be both remarkably specific and somewhat vague at the same time -- where did it come from, why 25'?

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How do you reconcile


"The best possible way to dispose of fish entrailsas with any kind of wasteis to pack them out."




Leave what you find - In National Parks and some other areas it is illegal to remove natural objects.


Aren't fish guts natural?

(I love being devil's advocate!)



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Greasy, grimy gopher guts should be packed out.


Alternatively, they need to be ceremonially buried in a lighting caused hole in the ground at a minimum depth of 300 feet by three shamans and a 90-year old maiden wearing gopher coats.


It's easier to pack them out, if only because it's a toss-up on which would be harder to find - a 300 foot deep lighting caused hole in the ground, or a 90-year old maiden.



As for fish entrails - what LNT recommends is:


1st: Pack it out (Preferred).


2nd: Bury them in a 6 to 8" deep cathole at least 200 feet from camp and water.


3rd: If legal, deposit in water at least 10 feet deep (not 25), or in moving water. Note, however, that many states with trout and salmon fishing rivers prefer that you don't drop entrails back into the water - one of the things they're trying to manage against is whirling disease, and infected fish entrails can spread the disease.


In all cases, check with the land managers and licensing authorities first and do what you are required to do by law and regulation. Some states have laws that will tell you how to dispose of fish. For instance, it's illegal to drop fish entrails into streams and lakes in Minnesota. Some places ban burying entrails and require you to deposit the entrails into water. Yellowstone National Park requires water deposition, at least 100 feet from a backcountry site. Follow the law/regulations first, then use LNT as a guideline if you aren't given specific instructions.


Of course the easiest way to deal with this is the ultimate LNT when it comes to fishing - Catch and Release.

(This message has been edited by calicopenn)

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I think the best advice in this thread is to check with local managers regarding the best practice. Entrails deposited in a warm, fertile lake would either be eaten or decay in no time, while in a clear canadian shield lake, there is very little oxygen at that depth and they would likely stick around a long time.


Heck, I think we should just eat them. Problem solved.


(This message has been edited by The blancmange)

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Eutrophication is the process of enrichment of an aquatic system, usually the result of inorganic nutrients but also by urban runoff or combined sewer overflows or wastewater releases. It's sometimes referred to as 'cultural eutrophication' in order to distinguish it from the natural process that almost always occurs for lakes as they age and fill in with sediment from the watershed. Most of the time cultural eutrophication is due to human development in the watershed or around lakes into which nutrients in excess of what can be assimilated are supplied, resulting in loss of water clarity, algal growth, oxygen consumption by decaying organic material, or all of the above. Normally, as the lake becomes greener (from algal growth), it grows more and more fish biomass until at some time in its history oxygen is completely consumed by decomposing organic material in which case there can be a fish kill (think Lake Erie).

The clear lakes of the Canadian Shield have plenty of oxygen unless they've undergone eutrophication in which case they're not really that clear in the first place. BTW, I have long advocated for a new brand of condom called, "Canadian Shields"...with a reservoir tip of course.;) Yes, off topic, sorry.


So when the salmon adults have returned to the stream and spawned in the headwaters, their dead carcasses litter the stream and, guess what, their decomposition has been shown to be an important source of nutrients (especially nitrogen) to support the stream ecosystem, including their own offspring.

JoeBob (aka, Devil's advocate) and SR540Beaver are on the right track after all.

[JoeBob, you do know, don't you, 'the Devil' doesn't exist and is just a myth?]


However, the comment about whirling disease is absolutely correct. If the stream is known to have the parasite, no part of the dead fish should be returned to any waterway.


But you guys, except for blancmange (thanks), have ignored my perfect solution. Yum!(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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