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The Unwritten Rules of Fishing

When it comes to fishing and boating, many people are ignorant to general etiquette.  Those of us who have been fishing for thirty years or more consider these behaviors common sense, but in reality there are things that many people are unaware of.

Remember the first time you played blackjack at a casino and hit your 18?  How about the first time you played golf and walked in front of somebody's line on the putting green?  You got dirty looks and scowls from the other players, but you had no clue as to why.  Fishing can be the same way.  I'm going to go over a few basic behaviors that you should be aware of the next time you hit the local waters.

The Fly By  We've all experienced it.  We're peacefully fishing in our favorite hole and somebody comes cruising by at maximum wake speed.  Our pole falls out of its holder, our soda can spills over, and all of the fish that were circling our bait in the water are long gone.

How to handle it:  Whenever possible, keep your distance from other anglers on the water.  There are times when the river is congested and there is no way to avoid getting close.  In this situation, go either really fast or really slow as to not throw a huge wake.

If you have to get really close to another boat, go slow.  There is nothing more annoying that having somebody blast past you at 40 mph 20' off of your starboard side.

Encroachment  This is a penalty in the NFL, and it should also be a penalty in fishing.  There you are, fishing in a huge unoccupied stretch of the river, and some guy pulls up and throws his anchor out 20 yards downstream of you.  Then he proceeds to crank up the radio and starts banging the net and other gear around the boat while looking for his 24 pack.  This is effectively a cut off maneuver.  If all the noise he's making doesn't scare off all the fish, he will catch the fish before they have a chance to make it upstream to your lines.  Never mind the fact that if you hook a decent fish, it will run directly into his anchor rope.

How to handle it:  When fishing, try to keep as much distance from the other anglers as possible.  Nobody wants to hear you blast your Wayne Newton tapes or rants with your drunk buddies about your trip to Tijuana last summer.  Try not to anchor within 200 yards of other boats on the river.  This will give you enough of a buffer incase you hook a monster sturgeon that rips out half of your line.  If you are in close quarters, avoid anchoring directly upstream or downstream from another boat.  This would put you in the same fishing lane as the other boat, and some anglers hate this!

If you pull up to your secret hole and somebody is already fishing there, go someplace else.  Chances are, there similar areas nearby that are holding just as many fish as your glory hole.

The Cross Over  We're not talking about Allen Iverson's dribble-drive move to the basket.  We're talking about crossing lines.  There are many different scenarios that can create the cross over in fishing.  The first is while bank fishing.  You find yourself fishing in close quarters and somebody next to you keeps casting over your line, forcing you to reel in to avoid a tangle.

How to handle it:  When fishing in close quarters, try to time your cast as to not cross other anglers' lines.

Another cross over is possible while trolling from a boat.  When two boats are trolling in opposite directions and pass each other, they need to keep some distance to avoid crossing lines or propellers.  When passing another boat, you are supposed to pass port side to port side.  If you aren't familiar with port and starboard sides, think of it like a two lane highway.  When two cars pass going in opposite directions, the other car passes by on your left.  If you pass another boat, don't force them to swing into the bank.  Make a gentle turn out and around the other boat and don't move back into your lane until all of the lines are clear of the other boat.

The Launching Ramp Traffic Jam  There we are, waiting in line to launch our boat.  The guy in front of us pulls down the ramp and just before he reaches the water he stops and shuts off the truck.  He proceeds to unload all of his gear from the back of his truck, fills the ice chest, sets up his rod, and talks about the weather with somebody standing on the dock.  Fifteen minutes later he is finally in the water and the ramp is clear.

How to handle it:  Be courteous, and get you boat set up before you hit the launching ramp.  If your boat requires some setting up before launching, do it in the parking lot before you get in line.  When you reach the ramp, you should be ready to unhook your boat and get into the water.  After you get the boat off the trailer, move it down to the end of the dock out of the lane.  I've had people launch in front of me that proceeded to tie their boat up right at the base of the ramp where I needed to launch (huh???).  If you think that people are clueless at launching facilities you are correct.  Not everybody has been boating for thirty years.  There are weekend warriors who only take their boats out a few times a year.  Keep this in mind and politely ask them to move their boat down to the end of the dock to clear room.