Every sport comes with its own unique code of etiquette—whether it’s written or unwritten. No golfer would ever dream of disrupting another golfer’s lie. In tennis, no spectator would yell as a player readies their serve. When it comes to fishing, there are an array of common courtesies and conventions that you should follow, too. Here are a few Rules of Fishing Etiquette you should keep in mind the next time you’re on the water.
Lets start at the boat ramp.
- Pack your boat prior to leaving your house. Park in a staging area or off to the side of the road to prepare your boat for launching. At the end of the day do the same to prepare your boat for the travel home.
- Once you have launched move your boat over to the dock. Remove your truck from the ramp as quickly as possible.
- While leaving and entering the launch area please slow down to a no-wake (Idle) speed.
While you are out on the water try to be as courteous as possible to others. Especially to non competitors who may be out enjoying a wonderful time with their family.
Do clean up after yourself.
The old Boy Scout rule works in Fishing Etiquette, too: Always leave the bank, river, pond or lake better than the way you found it. No one likes to discover a recently used fishing site strewn with empty beer cans or abandoned casting line. Carry all trash back home with you. (this includes wasted plastic worms and fishing line)
Don’t crowd other boats.
- If you see a fellow angler having success on a certain patch of water, don’t navigate your boat closer to them. As you pass through the other angler’s water, the wake from your boat can foil his or her fishing, driving potential catches away for both of you.
- Leave plenty of room when passing another vessel while on plane.
- Never crowd another angler, and be extra careful when fishing around land owners boats and docks. (Never leave a lure stuck on someone’s dock)
Don’t get caught without a fishing license.
It may sound like common sense, but every angler 16 years old and older must have a valid fishing license nationwide. And there’s no fishing license that is valid in all 50 states.
Typically, a fishing license costs a fraction of the amount of a potential fine. So, if you’re planning an out-of-state fishing trip, plan to get your license ahead of time from the relevant state’s fish and wildlife agency (you can find a directory of all 50 of them here).
Obey all safety and speed laws
- Please wear your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when the main engine is running or during bad weather.
- When boating, never run too fast for conditions.
- If the water is rough, or if many boats are present, slow down.
- Remember that your passenger’s safety and comfort are your responsibility!
If someone has shown you the extreme courtesy of taking you to his favorite bass water and requests that you not reveal its location to others, honor that request. It is considered a breach of Fishing Etiquette to return there without asking his permission first, or to reveal the location to another angler.
Give your fishing partner every opportunity to catch fish, just as you would expect him to give you the same opportunity if you were in the back of his boat. Don’t “front-end” or crowd him so that he can’t catch fish. Avoid over-competing, especially when you’re not fishing in a tournament. Trying to out-fish your buddy is annoying to the other guy.
Not every boater or fisherman is a bass fisherman. Crappie fishermen, pan fishermen, trollers and other anglers deserve your respect. Do not invade their territory. Pleasure boaters deserve their fare share of the water, too. Be courteous to all boaters. Whether or not they’re bass fishermen.
If someone signals for help or assistance, respond immediately. The bass can wait. You, too, may need directional help or a tow someday.
I know these rules of Fishing Etiquette are pretty basic points to some of you, yet it amazes me how many anglers get caught up in the excitement of fishing and seem to disregard some of these basic courtesies. The real importance of all of this is the fact that our water ways are quickly becoming over crowded and with this it is becoming even more urgent for us all to think of each other even more.