Ladyfisher
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

September 1st, 1997

Born in a Barn?



If Robert Fulghum was a fly fisher he might have said, "The lack of etiquette can greatly reduce the joys of fishing." Or as Grandmother used to say, "There is just no excuse for bad breeding." Unless you really were born in a barn, there is no excuse for bad manners. That applies in spades when fishing - and not just fly fishing either. If you want to have a terrific time fishing, you can insure the quality of your experience by learning a few things you should practice.

So you drive a couple of hours to your favorite stream. Park the rig, assemble your gear and wade upstream to your favorite spot.

Wrong.

Never wade for any distance in the water. The sediment stirred up can put the fish downstream off for the rest of the day. And lots of insects are scrunched in the process. Get out of the water and attempt to walk near the stream - but avoid unnecessarily trampling the banks and growth.

Do not walk from pool to pool, or riffle to riffle in the water. Avoid using the stream as a path.

Someone fishing in "your" favorite spot? Don't jump in. You might say something like, "Hi, how's it going?" If the person replies, (and conversation is optional) you might ask if anyone if fishing upstream. If there is no response, keep going. How far? As far as you could fish in half an hour. Or a minimum of 100 yards.

Really want to fish "that" spot? Find a place to sit, relax, contemplate your navel, and wait until that person moves on. You do not have exclusive right to any piece of water unless you own the deed to it. And sometimes not even then.

"Fish On!"

If you are on a body of water, and someone nearby is playing a fish, reel your line in and yield way to the person with the fish on. You may encounter this situation on rivers, in estuaries, and beaches on salt water.

Never attempt to land someone's fish for them if they have not asked you to help. You do not want the responsibility of losing some guys 'lifetime' fish.

Do not offer suggestions on what kind of fly to use unless asked. It is downright amazing what fish will hit on. If you have good luck and a fellow angler isn't, you might say, "This Chickenhole Special really seems to be working, I have an extra if you would like to try it." Mean it, or don't say it.

"Mom Told You"

Respect others property rights. That means fences and gates. Close all gates behind you. No trespassing means NO trespassing. You can find out who owns the property and ask permission. Most folks will happily say yes! However, no really means NO.

Anything packed in, whether it is food, drinks or smokes, is packed out. Aldo Leopold once said, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." That also means butts and matches. Don't tolerate liter. Maybe you didn't leave it, pick it up anyway and pack it out.

We see many kids on the streams and beaches. Watch your manners and language. Kids learn by example too.

Unless you are the President of the United States, leave your cell-phone and beeper in the vehicle. There is no place for cell-phones, radios, boomboxes, or worse yet beepers on the river or stream. Your rights are your rights only if they do not infringe on the rights of others. Fishing ought to be an enjoyable experience for all. Don't spoil it for others.

And What if . . ."

Just in case you end up in a situation where some ignorant clod violates any of the "rules" above, explain as politely as possible their error. It sometimes works. Maybe no one ever told them about angling manners.

If the clod decides his or her fishing is more important than yours, do not stoop to their level of clodsmanship. Move on. You probably won't catch anything with the clod (or clodette) there, and the stress of having to be around such people isn't worth it.

We fish to reduce stress, not to pile on more stress. A little common sense consideration goes a long way.

Tradition is a work in progress - it is not inherited. ~ The LadyFisher

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