Etiquette is key wherever you go and the water is no exception. Let’s face it, if you’re not a seasoned pro it can be intimidating to get yourself situated on a fishing trip. Whether you’re on the bank or on the boat, sometimes you need a bit of a reminder about the do’s and don’ts of fishing etiquette. Here are a few key tips for having a good time when you’re out on the water.
Space is Key
Unless you’re in a remote location, you’re probably going to be fishing with, or in the vicinity of other people. Giving other fishermen space is key. If you’re navigating your boat, keep to a spot on the water that’s away from other boats. Don’t move into another boat’s fishing spot. Also, if you’re on the boat with other fishermen, give your buddies space. If possible, have one of you fish the front of your boat and one of you fish the back. This helps to avoid accidentally crossing lines and to improve your chances of catching a fish. Plus no one wants to get a stray hook in the face from a gnarly cast. We also suggest rotating your position with your buddies to keep the water options “fresh.” If you must be in the same area as another person or boat, politely ask if it’s okay to be there or pass through the water.
Keep It Clean
No one wants to fish a dirty spot. That’s why it’s important to clean up after yourself. Be sure to clean up any litter. Keep track of stray lines and plastic baits. Try to prevent damage to the water or surroundings by using environmentally friendly tackle and avoiding making any lasting changes to the area. Not only does this keep the fishing spot clean and ready for whoever fishes there next, it minimizes any detrimental effects on the wildlife.
Sharing Is Caring
There’s a reason that you call the people that you regularly fish with your fishing buddies. No one likes to be on the water with a stingy angler. If you’re heading out on a lengthy trip that requires you to bring food and drinks, pack enough for all of you. The last thing you need is your buddy angrily staring at you while you shovel down a sandwich or happily munch on a protein bar as they sit in hungry misery. If you’re fishing with live bait and your buddy runs out, share a minnow or two so that you can both keep fishing for the length of the trip.
Don’t Be “That Guy”
Chances are you know what lures work for you and what don’t. Or if you don’t, you’ll learn enough to get a handle on it. But, when you’re on the water, don’t be the guy (or girl) that uses the same lure that someone else is using. Choose a different size, color, or entirely different bait. Also, if you see someone lose their catch, don’t immediately cast your bait into that area. Give the other fisherman a chance to get that second bite.
Respect Your Fish
Treat your quarry with respect. Try to reel your fish in as quickly but gently as possible and handle it with care as you’re unhooking it to avoid damage or injury. If you’re at your daily catch limit, don’t waste time and resources by overfishing. If you’re not releasing your fish once it’s in the boat or in the creel, follow your state’s restrictions for preparing the fish to be taken home. If you are going to release your fish, handle it in such a way so that it’s able to easily swim away after you measure it or take a picture. Check out our blog entry specifically dedicated to catch-and-release fishing for tips on how to handle fish.
This is perhaps the most important tip to good fishing etiquette. Before you head out on the water, make sure that you have your required fishing licenses. Know as much as you can about your fishing season. Know how long it lasts and any restrictions on catch limits or locations. Be able to identify the fish that you plan on catching. You don’t want to end up confusing your catch with another similar-looking species.
Following these tips on fishing etiquette should help you to have an enjoyable fishing experience.
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