Fishing 101: Etiquette

I was talking to a friend about “fishing etiquette” the other day. The subject is definitely one we’ve ALL talked about before. But, this conversation probably wasn’t quite the discussion that you’re thinking of...

The People You Fish With: Fishing Partners

There are two kinds of “fishing etiquette.” There’s the obvious one we all think about when the phrase is mentioned – and the not-so obvious one – the interaction with the people you are fishing with!

I have good friends that I love to death but wouldn’t fish with. When I told my friend this, it didn’t even take a millisecond of thought for him to say “Me too!” Some friends I’ve been fishing with expect, that because I’m experienced that I’m going to do everything including; pulling every anchor, supplying drinks, paying for gas, AND they expect me to hand them the rod the first time a snook pulls!

Then, there are the experienced fishermen that fish with one line out, as well as 5 dead-stick lines out…ummm…WHERE DO I FISH!?

What about the people you fish with that yell out, “FISH ON!” when you’re trying to sneak up on a school of spooky reds! Or, when somebody gets pissed off because they lost a fish and start banging around on the boat. It's very important that you consider the person's boat you’re on, and/or the people you've invited on your boat. You can be a great fisherman but not-so-great of a fishing partner. You could get on somebody's boat and find it was the first – and last – invitation you ever get. There's a reason.

Fishing Partner Courtesy

  • Watch what your fishing buddy's doing; if he's out of bait, and about to walk to the back of the boat for a whitie and you’re standing right there, reach in and toss it to him (or her)
  • When your fishing partner hooks into a fish, reel your line in and help him land/net the fish

  • Bring food for both of you; I have a friend who's lunches are worth not catching fish

  • Bring beverages

  • Pick them up if they need a ride

  • And last, but definitely one of the most important; ALWAYS help clean the boat when you're done fishing

Stranger Courtesy when Fishing

You have five lines down under the Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay – two on the bottom, one top-water and two in the water column-- only to get your lines run directly over by a group of guys scouting out a fishing spot for themselves. I mean, seriously!??! When you’re pulling into any area always make sure you’re looking around so that you don’t turn into “that guy”. Even when you’re in the wide-open water, make sure you’re not going to run right in the way of another angler's fishing spot. Who knows? They could be on a huge school of fish and by you buzzing by – even within 100 yards – you might just be close enough to the school they’re working to spook the fish.

Have Courtesy to Mother Nature when Fishing

Most true fishermen are environmentalists. We love nature and want to keep it looking good and healthy for our kids, their kids and their kids, etc. When you see a bottle floating in the water or a can stuck on a flat, pick it up. Be aware of what you have (trash) in your boat. When you pull anchor and decide to head to another hole, make sure you have secured all paper/plastic that will blow away as soon as you plane up.

General Breakdown: Fishing 101 Etiquette

In simplest terms, fishing etiquette could be easily defined:
  • Treat other anglers as you would want to be treated
  • Don't run over someone’s fishing lines because you think your time on the water is more important than somebody else's
  • Share bait; if you're done fishing and still have tons of live bait, offer them to someone and tell them how you've been doing out on the water
  • Don't get on top of somebody that's obviously working a particular spot
  • If you're fishing a sea wall or location that has plenty of space for your boat, be nice nonetheless, approach slowly and ask if they mind if you fish near them
  • Never get on a captain's boat without asking “Permission to board, Captain?” Ever!
  • Treat the waters around us like the deck of another captain's boat
  • Pick up garbage you see on or near the water
  • Dispose of trash properly
  • Don't let oil or gasoline spill into the water – not even a little bit
  • Carefully catch and (with wet hands) release the fish you aren't going to eat; Limit your catch, don't catch your limit.”
  • Don't fight fish until they float to the surface, and let the fish go with great attention to caring for them; land them quickly

Basically fishing etiquette is similar to regular daily etiquette. Be nice to people. Do as you would like to be done to. If everyone is respectful while they're on the water it will make everyone's boating/fishing experience that much better.

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