Crowding into a fishing spot: There ought to be a law!

Tim LesmeisterI was fishing a muskie tournament on Lake Wabedo in northern Minnesota. My partner and I slipped into the northwest corner of the lake to vertical jig some big plastic bodies. Ten minutes after we arrived a big deck boat pulled up, and the guy in the front started casting right at our boat. He dropped his lure right next to us. I responded by casting my big lead jig at his boat, dropping it inches from the hull. What’s good for the goose… right? 

He starts yelling at me. I shot back that we were there first and his casting right at us was rude. He yelled that I don’t own the water and he can drop his lure where ever he wants. I responded that I could, too. Then I reminded him of the Golden Rule. He got very upset and shouted that the golden rule to him was, "He Who Has the Gold, Rules." He fired up his big outboard, circled us at top speed a few times, and motored off.

He was trying to run us off the spot and I wouldn’t let him intimidate me. I’ve been crowded in a fishing spot before, and so have many of you. It happens to us all.

On Lake of the Ozarks, Sam Heaton from Humminbird and I motored into the mouth of a creek channel where we saw some shad breaking the surface. Obviously the baitfish were being chased by some bass. We were setting the hooks immediately. Not there 10 minutes, we saw a boat driving by that spun around on a dime when they saw us reeling in bass. Seconds later they were on top of this school of fish pounding the surface with topwater lures. In the next half hour a half-dozen other boats joined us. The difference? Everyone maintained enough distance that we could all efficiently work this hungry school of bass. We may have been crowded, but we weren’t being pushed around.

Whenever my dad would get irritated by something petty he would always declare, “There ought to be a law!”  Now I hate rules and regulations so I wouldn’t really want to instigate a policy that would curtail getting crowded on a spot. We all just need to be considerate of our friends on the water, and even if you see someone catch a fish on a particular spot, think twice before crowding them out. Remember the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

My favorite crowding-out happened on a Minnesota Walleye Opener. My two sons and I were fishing some shallow rocks next to a point, and we were hammering 18- to 20-inch walleyes by casting crankbaits to the shoreline and reeling them back. A couple of boats that were backtrolling deeper water suddenly decided to backtroll between my boat and the shoreline. Both boats crunched their props on the rocks. One was totally out of commission. I asked the guy if he needed help getting towed back to the resort. He chose to call someone to help him rather than take advantage of the guy whose spot he was stealing.

That reminds me of another saying: "What goes around, comes around."

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