Planet Protectors

This page is where we give recognition to our volunteers and leaders. We call it Planet Protectors because that is what they called Mark and Margot when they were written up in our local magazine. Not only did Mark and Margot start our Trash Fishing group, but they are both World Champions at it. Mark was the 2018 World Champion and Margot was 2020 and 2021. To become the Trash Fishing World Champion you have to remove more trash than anyone else in that season, so these two remove a lot of trash.

Here are some of our other participants. They are Planet Protectors as well.

Austin, Gage, Hannah, and Autumn
Kalso, Dan, Shelby, Theresa, Chrlie
Jessica (with Charlie), Mark, and Margot won congressional medals for their work with Trash Fishing and river cleanup!
That’s Mary, Gage, Charlie, and Chase
Captain Adam Morley with Margot and Mark
Scout Troop 1001G (Chloe, Heidi, Kate, Margot, and Katie) with Chase and Tom.
Kevin and JT brought their whole families to help out.
Charlie, Mark, and Mark’s Hair
Chase, Gage, Margot and Margot’s Attitude
This is a picture from our annual fundraiser/chili cookoff. You don’t need to get your hands dirty to help us remove trash. We host our event exactly one week before Thanksgiving. It is a fun way to help fund our efforts.

Welcome To The Sport of Trash Fishing

The trash fishing crews

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?  Mark and Margot Nardone are the founders of Trash Fishing, they created the sport as a way to help the environment while having fun. Both Mark and Margot are former Trash Fishing World Champions having collected more trash than anyone else.  Other Trash Fishermen include Charlie, Jesse, Gage, Chase, Hannah and Tom.  A bunch of other people come join us when possible but those special people are hard core into trash fishing. If you’d like to join us, anyone is welcome, we even have free tools you can use to help you catch trash.

The trash fishing crews

What tools do you use?  Our most useful tools are probably a “grabber” and a boat. 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 Grabbers to give to you, so Trash Fishing is sorta free.  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, 100 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.

Do we ever Magnet Fish?
Sometimes near the dock we try using a big magnet, but those only pick up steel items, which don’t seem as damaging to the environment as styrofoam and plastics.

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:  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 150 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 17 footer is over 30 years old and my 17 footer is 20 years old.  You don’t need to have anything so deluxe. Little boats are fine. Bring what you have.  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  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, 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, and in 2023 we raised $4,800 by hosting a chili cook off and a silent auction of weird items. These amounts sustain our efforts.

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

Enemies of Debris
1892 Thunderbird
Troy MI 48084

Trash Fishing Results

Here is a tally of how much trash we have removed in each of the years of our existence:

2018 – We didn’t really keep track back then, but we estimate 500 pounds

2019 – 3,508 pounds – Champion – Mark Nardone

2020 – 4,320 pounds – Champion – Margot Nardone

2021 – 6,598 pounds – Champion – Margot Nardone

2022 – 6,630 pounds – Champion – Gage Van Eckoute

2023 – 11,995 pounds (that’s going to be tough to beat!) – Champion – Tom

2024 Battle of the Big Tarp

Trash Fishing Crew

For years we have cleaned up around an Island called Zug Island. Zug Island is an industrial island in the Detroit River. It was formed by Henry Ford and houses a giant steel mill. At one point Zug Island was considered the most polluted acreage in the world. It’s a shame because the clean water of the great lakes and the snow melt of most of the Midwest and central Canada flows right by.

In our attempts to clean the shores of Zug Island we have pulled thousands of pounds of trash and debris, but we were never able to get a specific big blue tarp. Well, this time we brought the right tools for the job. We were victorious. You can see a little video we made here:

The biggest piece of trash we have ever pulled

We see all sorts of things out on the Detroit River. If you don’t know where the Detroit River is, it runs between Michigan and Canada and three of the great lakes drain through it on their way to the Atlantic Ocean. It is a big body of water with a fairly fast current in some area. It also has a lot of industry along it and a huge number of freighters and such navigate the river in order to keep our country running.

While out on the river one day we spotted this giant tire bobby up and down in some shallow water. We knew that no one else would get it out of the water, so it had to be us. We spent a couple of days devising a way to use 55 gallon drums full of air and a bunch of tie-down straps to “float” the tire to a boat launch. Then we trailered it to a tire recycling plant. We spent $200 to ensure it was recycled properly. At the plant they weighed our treasure. It weighed 5,800 pounds!

Hot Tub Madness!

This might be the weirdest thing we’ve ever pulled out of the waterway. At first we thought it was a rock, but as they got closer Gage and Chase realized that it was a HOT TUB!!! Or at least a large portion of a hot tub that had floated its way from who-knows-where. We were happy to pull this hunk of fiberglass and foam out of the waterways! Yuck!

Do we swim where we trash fish?

One of the big misconceptions about what we do is that the water must be dirty in a place called “The Detroit River”, but that isnt’ true at all. The Detroit River is park of the Great Lakes, one of the world’s largest sources of clean, fresh water. Sure, there is trash out there for us to collect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our time out there as well.

We aren’t afraid to get dirty while trash fishing because we know that getting the mud off your legs and hands is as easy as jumping off the boat and taking a dip.

We Play Well With Others

The Trash Fishing group plays well with other groups that do river cleanups. There is a large group Friends of The Detroit River that sponsor the Detroit Riverkeeper. They do a lot to keep our waterways clean and pristine. One event they host is an annual river cleanup. Our team goes ALL OUT for that event because it is the one time a year that other people watch what we do. We knock their socks off with our productivy. Often the trash collected by our team makes up over 50% of their total trash collected. We are pretty much the kings and queens of river cleanups. If you are planning a cleanup on the Detroit River, please invite us. We will bring our A-game and elevate the entire event!

Sometimes we Trash Fish when we go on vacation. Here we are teamed up with a group in St. Augustine, Florida.

Here we are teamed up with a group of SCUBA divers.

Here is our 2024 picture of the Friends of The Detroit River event. We outdid ourselves!

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: