Fishing etiquette reminder, for lake or for stream

Whether you are on the water in a boat or along a stream at a favorite fishing hole, there is proper etiquette that should be taught to the next generation of angler. Of course, it’s not necessarily the “young.” In fact, how’s that saying go about old dogs and new tricks? You get the drift.

I was talking to a charter captain the other day fishing perch on Lake Erie. He started out fishing alone but it wasn’t long before he was surrounded by boats, some less than 10 yards away. As is typical when on a small school of perch, the fish will move off in a particular direction for whatever reason. Staying on those perch – or coming up with a plan to pull them back to your boat – is part of your mission to experience a successful day on the water.

One way to stay on them is to cast for them. Casting your minnows or jigs out in a particular direction and trying to get the fish to hit can at least point your boat in the right direction. Use your trolling motor to move that way. Before you do, though, get the other people in your boat to cast in that direction and try to pull them back to you.

But what would you do when other boats are too close and you can’t cast? You can try to move with the fish, but that can be difficult, too. When you have an armada of boats around you, the only option is to pick up shop and find a different school in a different part of the lake.

However, the bigger problem is what to do when every other boat does the same thing? It happened on this particular day. Everyone fired up their motors and followed the leader to the next prime piece of perch real estate. Crazy, but true.

At the State of Lake Erie meeting in April, DEC fisheries biologist Dr. Jason Robinson reported that there are an average of 5,400 perch per acre in the lake. That’s a lot of perch. Apparently no one was listening because that fleet of perch boats occurs day in and day out each spring – one on top of the other. And if someone sees a bent rod, it isn’t long before that boat is surrounded.

You don’t need to do that. Use your electronics to find your own pod of perch and do your best to stay on them. And if you still do it the old-fashioned way of tossing out an anchor to keep your spot, now is the time to start saving up some money to purchase a MinnKota motor with GPS technology and spot lock – no anchor needed. The bad thing about an anchor is that you can rile up the bottom of the lake and it can scare fish off. We need to get better at educating the general public in this regard.

In the streams, we need more common sense. Would you walk down the middle of a stream approaching a potential angling spot from above the hole while someone is fishing it? People do that all of the time, without thinking. Do your homework and find alternative fishing spots should your favorite hole be occupied. You take that approach for turkey hunting, why wouldn’t you do it for fishing? Part of the fun with fishing is exploring and finding new areas, taking the road less traveled. We shouldn’t always be taking the easy way out. You just might find your own new “secret” spot.

Bottom line here is to treat people the way you would want to be treated. Respect your fellow anglers on the water and hopefully that same respectful attitude will be paid back to you.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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