Welcome To The Sport of Trash Fishing

What is trash fishing?  Trash fishing is like regular fishing, but we fish for trash.  It is a way to clean up our waterways and have fun doing it.

What’s the goal of trash fishing?  To find the most and the most interesting debris, haul it out of the water, and dispose of it properly.  Trash fishing is part treasure hunt and part environmental cleanup.

Who are some trash fishermen?  Well, my son Mark, he’s 15, he’s the founder of Trash Fishing and his twin sister Margot is the current Trash Fishing World Champion.  This project was his idea. I’m Tom and I go with them. My friend Charlie is always there and his daughter Jesse, she’s 10. Our friends Gage, Hannah, Chase, Kevin, and a bunch of other people come join us. Anyone is welcome, we even have free tools you can use to help you catch trash.

What tools do you use?  Our most useful tool is probably a “Gripper-Grabber”, someone usually sits on the front of the boat and grabs the trash.  If you bring a boat to one of our events this year, we have free Gripper Grabbers to give to you, so Trash Fishing is sorta free.  Sometimes near the dock we try using a big magnet, but those only pick up steel items. We usually wear gloves of some kind because the trash can be a little gross.  People have shown up with nets and shovels and rakes too. Whatever it takes to get the trash out of the water and into the boat, that’s what we do.

How much trash is a good haul?  You can measure it a few ways.  If you are going by weight, 50 pounds per boat is a good start, but some of expert Trash Fishermen can pull in 300 lbs. of trash.  If you measure by volume, a full contractor trash bag is a good goal. Some of our more seasoned trash grabbers use reusable containers like 55 gallon drums we find in the river. A big day might include filling those up multiple times. There is a lot of trash out there. The current record for a single boat in a single day is 2,230 lbs. set by Tom and Margot in the Trash Tauk.

Is there a Trash Fishing Tournament?  Yes!  We host approximately 8 of them a year. They are a lot of fun.  You can find the list of events here:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/trashfishing/events  Trash Fishing Contests are free to enter and you could win a prize for collecting the most trash, the biggest piece of trash, or the most unusual trash.  So come join us.

Is trash fishing boring or difficult?  No!  Unlike real fishing, you stay busy trash fishing.  If you get in a honey-hole with a lot of trash, you can stay busy for the entire time.  It’s fun to catch so much trash. Kids especially like it because there is no waiting and they can do it easily.

Why do this instead of real fishing?  Rather than catching a couple of fish you won’t eat, you can hunt around and pull 50 pounds of trash out of our waterways.  It isn’t unusual to catch 100 pieces of trash in an afternoon. That’s a lot of fun.

What unusual finds have you fished out of the river?  Lots!  The first piece of trash we ever nabbed was a waterski!  We’ve also found a Coast Guard Buoy that was used to track dead bodies, a Canadian construction barrel, a hose reel cart, an electric scooter, underpants, buckets, a basketball, car tires (they float if they are still on the rim), lots of bottles and cans, bait containers, boat bumpers, and all sorts of other things.  You really never know what you’ll find Trash Fishing! That’s part of the fun.

What do you need to go Trash Fishing?  Well, it usually requires a boat.  Most of the trash is in areas that seem to require a motor boat of some kind.  Not a big one, or a nice one, just about any boat with a motor will do. If you (or your friend) has an old boat sitting behind their garage that they hardly use, encourage them to come trash fishing.  We stick together in groups, so if there is trouble it is easy to get towed back to the launch. When I started Trash Fishing Mark and I used a 9 foot long dinghy and Charlie had an 11 foot fold-a-boat.  Definitely not yachts. Now we have Boston Whalers, which are more capable, but I doubt anyone would find our boats nice.  Charlie’s 13 footer is over 50 years old and my 15 footer is 25 years old.  You don’t need to have anything so deluxe. Little boats are fine. Bring what you have.  Row boat, fishing boat, bass boat, swamp boat, pontoon boat? We welcome all kinds.

Are kayaks good for Trash Fishing?  Some folks come with kayaks and those are welcome at many of the events, but you should be ready to be towed a bit by a motor boat. You’ll also need a good trash plan. You’re probably going to collect a lot of trash, so bring a good size bin, Paul brought his your curbside recycling bin.  That was a good size.  Be ready for rough water too.  The Detroit River can be rough and it moves pretty quickly, kayaking against it can be an uphill battle. Usually a motor boat can tow a train of 3 or so kayaks, but even at a crawl in some areas you might get tipped over. Check the event description to see if kayaks are a good idea. Sometimes we travel too far from our origin to have kayaks join us.

How Do I Get Involved?  First, follow us on Facebook.  That’s where we update events, post interesting things, and plan everything.  Facebook is much easier to update than this website and people use Facebook to connect with friends, so we do most of our planning over at Facebook.com/TrashFishing.  Like the page, sign up as “Going” for one of our events.  Then just show up to the event.

Can Our Organization Partner With You?  Absolutely!  Any organizations are more than welcome to partner with us.  If you are having a river cleanup or a beach cleanup, let us know and we’ll try our best to show up.  If you have a clean water initiative and you want some manpower, let us know. If you are doing some scientific research into water pollution and you want to ride along with us, contact us.  We want to work together. There is a lot of trash to be collected.

Do we need sponsors?  Yes! We are part of a 501(c)(3) non-profit so  your donations to our cause are tax-deductible.  Our non-profit, called The Enemies of Debris raises money every year to support our trash removal efforts.  That’s how participants get free donuts, Gripper-Grabbers, and even shirts by attending events.

Enemies of Debris is GuideStar Gold Rated for our financial transparency.  No one in the group takes a salary so all of the money donated goes to removing trash. Our goal is to remove 1 lb. of trash for every $1 we raise.  We have actually been exceeding that goal fairly well. In 2019 we raised $1,500 and removed 3,751 lbs. of trash.  In 2020 we have raised $6,000 and we are removing trash like crazy. In 2021 we raised $4,400 by hosting a chili cook off and a silent auction of weird items. These amounts are great for us.

If you want to send a donation of money or anything you think we can use, please send it to:

Enemies of Debris
352 Oliver Dr.
Troy MI 48084

2020 Trash Fishing is Going Great

Hi, I’m just writing a quick blog post to let you know that our 2020 season is going great! Last year we raised a little bit of money to fund our efforts for this year.

In 2019 we used a budget of $1500 to remove 3,751 lbs. of debris from our waterways. That was a great result considering our initial goal was to remove 1 lb. of trash for every $1 we raise.

In 2020 our budget is about $6,000 and we are already removing trash at a furious rate. We have 8 contests planned plus Charlie’s boat and our boat are now kept in the water at a marina, so we can go trash fishing anytime we want.

If you want to follow along with us, see more frequent updates, photos, and videos, please view our Facebook page. Updating this site requires a lot more effort and gets far fewer visitors than our Facebook page, so our focus is over there. Here is the address: www.Facebook.com/TrashFishing

2018 Trash Fishing Season Wrap-Up Video

We had a great inaugural season of Trash Fishing. In 2018 Mark came up with the idea for Trash Fishing, we talked about it and decided to buy a little boat.  It was a new experience for both Mark and I, but it seemed like a great idea.

From our first voyage we realized we had a good idea.  There was lots of trash and it was fun to grab it.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that we should invite other people to join us, so we did.  Now Trash Fishing is a fun activity we share with friends both new and old.  To finish up the year, we put all of our favorite video clips into this one video.

Hopefully 2019 is going to be an even better year for Trash Fishing.  We’ve got a new (to us) boat and a little bit of money to plan some great events.  Check our Facebook events page to see exactly what we are up to.

Boston Whaler Joins The Trash Fishing Movement as a Corporate Partner

Exciting News! Boston Whaler, yup, that Boston Whaler, has joined us as a Corporate Partner. What does that mean? Well, we don’t really have a lot of needs right now, and we don’t really have a lot to offer, but our hearts are in the right place and we have a big problem to tackle. With all of that in mind, we asked the folks at Boston Whaler to help us with our plans.

In 2019 we plan to throw some great Trash Fishing events and possibly pull 2,000lbs of trash out of the water. While we do this, we want to look good, so we asked for some Boston Whaler gear. In 2020 we want to plan Trash Fishing events all over and the folks at Boston Whaler can put us in touch with their dealers everywhere. It sounds like a great partnership to us. In the video above you can see us opening all of the gear. We’ll put it to work this season and if we gather enough attention and enough trash, those 2020 plans will fall into place.

Mark Submitted A Trash Fishing Video For A National Contest

There is a national contest for school aged children to create and inspirational video. The contest is called Reflections. This year Mark submitted this video to it.

Update:  Mark won a prize!  He finished in the top 3 in the state and won a $75 gift card and we went to a banquet where they played his video.  The most exciting thing to Mark though was at the banquet a bunch of people at our table didn’t eat their cheesecake dessert, so Mark ate about 5 of them.  He still talks about it.

We Raised Over $1,500 To Plan Our 2019 Events

Trash Fishing IndieGogo Campaign

We recently raised some funds so that we can throw some awesome Trash Fishing competitions in 2019. Our goal was very reasonable and we promised to spend the money wisely. We raised just enough to host some trash fishing events and provide people that attend these events with free donuts and free trash grabbing tools. We will also have a bit of money to make shirts for people that come trash fishing multiple times.

It is certainly going to be a lot of fun in 2019.  We hope you will check our Facebook page for an event that you can attend.


Trash Fishing #5 – Diapers and Underpants at Belle Isle

We launched from a new spot this time. We put in at the St. Jean boat launch on the Northern end of Detroit, near Belle Isle.  From there we patrolled both sides of the Detroit River looking for trash.  On the land side we found a hose reel, trash, barrel and some other stuff.  On the Belle Isle side we found underwear, diapers, a car tire on the rim, and a boat oar.  We also found a bunch of trash to pick up.  It was a great day of Trash Fishing.  Mark’s twin sister Margot came out with us for the first time. Charlie and Jesse did too.


Trash Fishing Video – Episode 4 – The World’s First Trash Fishing Contest

When we started Trash Fishing we knew that if it was fun we would try to get other people to join us. Well, it is fun, and we want other folks to enjoy it too. Tom’s idea was to hold Trash Fishing Contests because contests are always fun. So, we held the first ever Trash Fishing Contest to see who could find the most, the most unusual, and the biggest piece of trash. We also awarded a “World Champion” award to the person who had collected the most trash all season.

Trash Fishing Video – Episode 3

On this day we were called down to the river to do a TV interview. The interview went well, Mark did all of the talking, and when we were done we realized that we had the boat right there and we had some time, so we went Trash Fishing. We found a boat bumper and a pool noodle too. It was a quick run, but it was still fun.