I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

• Some angler ethics

I confess I learned most of what I know about what's right and wrong in fishing from my parents and grandparents. Things like catch and release, proper fish handling, keeping my distance from other fishermen, and cleaning up after myself were lessons learned in each and every fishing trip. Much of what I learned simply came from spending a lot of time in the outdoors, not necessarily on the water. Subsequently, much of what I stand for now also came from observations of what not to do. The outdoors is for everyone to share and enjoy. Taking on a belief that you have some kind of ownership over public land or water or a right moreso than others is a step down a somewhat selfish and corrupt road.

One of the first things that ever taught me about angler ethics was a sticker that came with a Plano tackle box I still use. I slightly modified a couple of them, but here is the list.

Keep only the fish needed
Do not pollute and properly dispose of trash
Strive to improve angling and boating skills
Always observe fishing and boating regulations
Respect the rights of other anglers
Respect other people's property
Pass on your knowledge
Support local conservation
Never introduce fish or plants into public water

Here are some of my own rules and some I've taken as my own from others.

Do not disturb other anglers or smaller boats with your wake. Many lakes have rules such as keeping at least a 100ft distance between yourself and stationary boats for example.

Don't egde in on someone else fishing a particular spot. Be patient and work your way around them or wait for them to move on. Trying to force someone to move is just a rude thing to do. Besides, you might want to pay attention to what they are using and follow up after them with something different. You might catch the lunker that was too lazy to bite what they had. I enjoy a little bit of privacy on the water to get away from it all. Pressuring someone off a spot is an all too common behavior in many fishermen I encounter on the water. Tsk tsk tsk.

Always make an attempt to say hi to a fellow boater or fisherman. You don't have to stop and tell your life story, but a wave or a quick hello is just a friendly thing to do. A simple nod is not my thing. If you do choose to shoot the breeze, don't always be the condescending jerk out there enforcing the rules. There are ways of going about this without sounding like you're patrolling the lake for violations. There are polite ways to remind people to have life vests and nice ways to remind people that a slot limit is imposed on the lake and they probably wouldn't like to get caught.

When in line to launch a boat, be patient or offer to help the person you're waiting on.

Pick up trash or debris you see floating in the water. If I see a board or log floating in a channel, I'll slow down and try to pick it up and drop it somewhere out of the way. I always keep a bag in the boat for garbage others have tossed in the water. If your trash flies out of the boat, go back and pick it up.

I go out of my way sometimes to cut fishing line I see tangled up in limbs. Sometimes I get free lures out of the deal, but finding 10-20ft of line in a cypress limb these days is all too common. I've had to remove line in the prop on the main motor once. Limb lines are not legal on the lake I usually fish and I cut 'em when I see 'em. I have seen dead birds hooked by limb lines that could not get free and drowned.

That may not be everything I follow, but it's what I can think of right now. I'm sure there are things I do that I don't even pay attention to that might be perfect for this blog. Remember that rules were written for everyone to follow. Avoid rationalizing that a rule here and there should not apply to you.



Great post, I too get frustrated with all the trash left by fellow anglers. I usually keep one pants pocket reserved for fishing line that I've picked up along the way. I usually grab the loose line and wad it up and hike it out. If there's a hook at the end of the line, I usually cut it off and keep it in a jar and throw it out at home or salvage it for my own use. It's really sad to see how much other litter is on the shores besides what the fishing gear.