By Steve Graf
Let’s continue our conversation from last week on what anglers should and should not do. Some of these topics we’re talking about are things the younger generation of anglers coming up have not been taught. As great as high school bass fishing is for the sport, this group of anglers needs some undivided attention on things that are important, like boat management and fishing etiquette on tournament day.
First let’s talk about things you should never do with your boat. With so many anglers on the water today, which has increased by the hundreds over the last 15 years, confrontations are occurring at an alarming rate. Just like road rage, now you have water rage. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes matters into their own hands and hurts someone who is basically innocent due to the fact they’ve never been taught boating etiquette. You should always respect another angler’s area that he’s fishing by idling past or around him. So many times, I see anglers get on plane way too soon which creates a 3-foot wake, which can result in throwing another angler out of his boat. Always idle past or out of an area slowly if it is being fished by other anglers. This is called respect and all anglers appreciate this jester. To add to this, never run too close to another angler either. I’ve seen several near misses with boats traveling 60 MPH or faster within 10 feet of another boat.
No one is impressed with your ability to run a bass boat like you’re in the Daytona 500. Always navigate your boat at a safe distance away (at least 20 yards) from other boats fishing that area. Now obviously there are times when this may not be possible, such as when anglers are fishing in a marina or a narrow creek channel. Even when you’re running in a creek channel and you come upon a boat that is fishing, shut down before you get to them. This eliminates a big wake that can throw the other boat up on the bank or into a dock or tree line. For the most part, just be respectful…it’s really just common sense or common courtesy.
The next issue I see all too often is the lack of respect for the area or a stretch another angler is fishing. Every day I see someone pull up on another angler, shut off their motor (way too close) and create a 3-foot wake! Then they jump up on the front deck and start fishing on the same side of the pocket (or stretch) within 20 feet of another angler going in the same direction! It’s as if they are wearing blinders like a horse in the Kentucky Derby! This is becoming a major problem today with guys competing for the areas that have proven to be productive over time. Every lake has popular areas that anglers know hold good quality fish. Not all areas on a lake or river are created equal, and good anglers who do their homework know where these are. If you’re going to fish the same area or stretch, fish away from me in the opposite direction. DO NOT go in front of me twenty yards and start fishing. This is called “cutting someone off” and it’s not right. It’s another one of those unwritten rules of bass fishing…. never cut someone off by fishing in front of them.
Now there is another situation that can occur, especially out on the open lake. All over most lakes there are brush piles that other anglers have put out in order to attract bass. With today’s electronic fish finders and forward-facing sonars, it’s easy to find these brush piles. This is where anglers get a little confused and frustrated. You have to understand that when you sink brush on a public body of water, it’s now considered community property and anyone can fish it. Unfortunately, the angler that has worked hard to put out that brush pile does not always see it that way and will go to extraordinary lengths to protect it. Many a feud has occurred on the water over who is entitled to fish it. The best advice I can give you on this…ask permission to share this area with the other angler if he got there first. If he says “no”, then move on to another area to fish.
I hope you gained some knowledge and understanding today on some of the hot topics we are experiencing on our lakes and waterways. Again, as our lakes and waterways become overcrowded, we need more anglers to step up and try to educate the next generation on the ethics of bass fishing and how to conduct themselves. So, if you’re on the water and see youngsters doing things that aren’t right, exercise patience and feel free to educate them on the unwritten rules of fishing. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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