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Discussion Starter #1
I'm primarly  catch and release. I just read Cope's report on Quincy tonight about a few 2 to 3 lb. dead bass found at Quincy. Plastic worms seem to work quite well there and are a common bass bait.
I've been thinking about this. When fishing with Senko's let's say, once in awhile they come off while casting or after a bite. Sometimes they end up in the lake and they have a good chance of getting picked up by a fish. I wonder, can a bass or trout survive swallowing a 4 or 5" plastic worm? Has it been researched?
 

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Plastics taste bad so fish usually spit them out, however if they swallow them its like when we swallow stuff we usually pass it undigested. However I found this quote which may counter my statement.
"Would a fish survive after ingesting a soft-plastic bait? It didn't always seem likely." Field & Stream,

Here is a link to the article:
http://www.fslures.com/news.asp?record_no=2854&pdf=true
 

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I had a bass in my aquarim when I was a kid that swallowed a plastic worm. After a couple of weeks he pooped the platic worm out-and he was just fine while he had it in his belly! He was only ~10", and he swallowed a 6" plastic worm...
 

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I happen to know that they survive, both from scientific research on the subject and my own eyes.
Plastics aren't exactly good for fish, but eventually the gastric acids will break down the plastics enough to a point that they will disintegrate. It does however take a long time and the fish may not feed quite as well.
I was bass fishing once at a lake, and lost a 5" banjo minnow. The next trip, I caught a 14" rainbow with a fat stomach. In the stomach was some larger object. I kept the trout and guess what, it was my banjo minnow, the exact one I lost. I have found whole hooks and jigheads, can lids, rocks, and even nails in the stomachs of trout and they were none the worse for the wear.
I have caught bass too that had torn up senkos and flukes that had fallen off of my hook on previous trips. I even had a bass swallow a fluke that fell off of my hook and then go sit in the same spot. I then cast another rigged fluke and he actually bit it and I landed him, removed the old fluke and released him.
The major cause of fish mortality is improper handling. People keep a fish out of the water too long for photos, squeeze them, remove the slime coating, transfer bacteria, and drop them hard onto land or the water. Unless your dumping in plastics by the truckload, it is of no concern to fish health.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the responses. This is good to know. I don't like to see fish dead unless they're going in the frying pan.
 
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