As fly-fishing and fishing in general has gained popularity, the ability to find peace and tranquility on the water has become increasingly difficult. We have all had the enjoyment of a day on the water greatly diminished by rude and/or ignorant fishermen. With the number of boats operating in our favorite waters, it truly takes an aware and diligent captain to be considerate of his fellow anglers. We have all angered another fisherman unintentionally at one time or another simply because we lost our focus or failed to observe how an area was being worked by other fishermen. Through the life of hard knocks, here is a suggested list of helpful tips that should translate to a more relaxing day of chasing your favorite species.
1) Thou shall not show a “secret spot” to a buddy after your other buddy showed it to you. The only way this is allowed is if you found the spot yourself. Remember, know whom you can trust. Human nature can kill a good spot quickly. Rest assured that, as you see more boats at your “secret spot” and wonder who and how they could possibly know about it, six degrees (probably two) is at play. I have tested this theory many times by approaching “unknown” boats in a spot, and there is always a connection to a fishing buddy.
2) Never move in on, or cut off, another angler fishing an area. A minimum of a quarter-mile is suggested. If moving into an area where other boats are working, don’t be lazy; pick up the push pole and come in quietly. Worst case, use the trolling motor on low. Pay attention to which way the other boats are working a shoreline or flat. If they got there first, they have the line. Pay attention to wind direction because most anglers will work a shoreline downwind.
3) Ernest Hemingway said it best: “Never tell fish stories where people know you, especially if they know the fish.” It’s fun to share great fish tales with very close friends, but you can quickly gain a reputation as a severe embellisher and lose credibility with your peers when you brag to strangers.
4) Listen to your gut when in the vicinity of other anglers. If you feel uneasy about what you are doing, back off; it’s probably not the right thing to do. Regroup and go to plan B. The truth is that the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality rarely leads to good fishing — plan B may really be better anyway, especially if you are the only boat doing it.
5) When fishing with a buddy, establish rules for trading shots, or bow time. One and done on a slow day, three and out if they are pushing well. Or put it on the clock if the fishing is really slow. Mixing things up can change your luck at any time.
6) When you find your own hot spot, try to keep it to yourself. Bragging to “buddies” will spread the word like wildfire. There’s nothing worse than showing up to your spot and seeing your buddy sitting there with a sheepish grin on his face. On several occasions, I have called buddies on a Saturday evening about a hot bite and found them there before me on Sunday morning — ouch! Clearly, they forgot the Fourth Commandment.