Do you want to try a new activity that can help the environment and might be a treasure-hunt at the same time? Introducing magnet fishing, today’s nature challenge.  This is similar to metal detecting, except that it happens in the water.  I have not tried this activity yet, but it sounds like it could be fun as well as beneficial if you proceed with care.

Tons of items are discarded in our waterways every year.  Many have metal parts.  With a strong enough magnet and a rope as a fishing line, you can pull your metal catch out of the water.  

For the magnet, you will want a good-sized neodymium fishing magnet.  Start with a one-sider as it is easier to use.  Also, read up a bit about how to safely use these magnets.  They bring their own set of risks.

Next, you will need a nylon rope.  The length is up to you.  Consider where you will be standing when you are casting your magnet.  If you are, for example, standing on a footbridge, estimate how long the rope needs to be to touch the bottom of the pond or stream.  

Also, think about wearing some good sturdy gloves.  Many items will be broken or rusty.  You don’t want to get tetanus!  So please be careful when handling the items. 

Magnet Fishing © Couperfield |

Common catches include lost fishing lures, keys, and cell phones.  Some folks have hit the jackpot with old railroad ties, repairable bicycles, knives, jewelry, and even a money box.  

Then there are the scary catches.  They are rare, but they are not unheard of.  Bullets and oxygen bottles can be snagged.  Once, an unexploded WWII bomb was pulled up.  Occasionally, and depending on the location, hand grenades are found. If you “catch” something that might be an explosive, stop immediately, gently lower your catch, tie your line to something solid, and call for the authorities.  This doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. 

This can be a fun family event but if kids are involved, there needs to be adult supervision.  

Finally, before beginning this unusual challenge, please check the local regulations to ensure that this activity is permissible in your area. 

This seems like it could be a fun way to help clean up a waterway — if you use some good sense.  


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