On The Hook: Fishing etiquette, eh?

BILL WALSH

Etiquette. The definition is quite compact and clear ... “rules governing socially acceptable behavior.”

Now, most every sport has a level of conduct expected of it’s participants whether they be spelled out chapter and verse or innately derived. In golf, you wouldn’t dare hit the other person’s better lie or sneeze lustily in the middle of a putting stroke. Or in tennis, you wouldn’t initiate a serve when the other guy is putting his shoe back on; all those are a behavioral no-no.

And even in organized team sports, with their copious rules and regulations there exists an almost unwritten code of conduct of things you just don’t do. A good example of that was the recent example of one professional team filming their opponent’s practice just days before their game. The mere audacity of the event cries out ... “not fair” ... that’s cheating.” How do those breeches of acceptable conduct stack up with your experience in sportfishing?

Let’s examine the issue with real life examples:

Boat wakes

Our hero operates his automobile with care and courtesy; he allows the waiting driver exiting a shopping center to pull in the traffic lane ahead of him; he swings wide of a cycler pedaling the highway; but something happens to him when he gets behind the helm of “Ol’ Thunderfoot.” He uses every iota of horsepower available and never swerves for anything; his passengers clutch their hats with one hand and white knuckle the grab rails with the other.

If he sees a boat fishing a dock or waterway edge, it becomes a target. Never swerving from course he throws a wake like something out of the “Perfect Storm” while his passengers wave their clutched hats. All that before they almost turn you over; and once in awhile they do turn you over.

It’s late morning in July and a Lund type fishing boat with three folks aboard are anchored fishing the rip-rap pile at the edge of the no-wake zone on the eastern end of the La Peninsula complex on the Isles of Capri. A sizable sportfisher, not waiting until it clears the no-wake zone, puts it on plane very early and, either ignoring the fishing boat or ignorant of their presence, sends one of “those” wakes cascading into the seawall.

Two of the three occupants are tossed out of the boat and the sole remaining occupant is feverishly trying to bail the seawater from the I disappearing stern. The two immersed, luckily, can scramble up the rocks in front of the seawall. We’re fishing over by Hideaway Beach with several other boats and all of us weigh anchor and race across the river.

Capri Fire Rescue had already responded and the two water soaked anglers were well in hand and Fire Rescue is in process of towing the half submerged boat back to shore and safety.

What’s etiquette here? To simply slow down. It only costs a couple minutes or steer safely to the far side of the channel as far as conditions allow away from the anchored angler. Remember you are responsible for your wake!

Fishing spot bandits

Sportfishing mimics the real estate axiom of location, location, location. Not all that huge expanse of water in front of you will produce good fishing results, however, certain areas with bottom structure, favorable current flow that holds bait and cleaner water will produce. That area then is labeled a “fishing spot.”

If you fish here you have them. You have them indelibly etched in your memory; they are even too precious to record on a piece of paper. After all, it took you years of culling off the losers and choosing these elite fishing spots.

Now in the weird world of fishing, it maybe happen that another angler has chosen the same spot, and that’s OK you don’t own the place and at times, when they arrive first, you move with stifled annoyance to another spot.

But that is not always the case. There are those, who vacate all the tedious effort in developing “fishing spots” and just steal yours. Bandits for sure.

Offshore they do it by sighting you fishing an unpublished spot and then with GPS humming come in close to you reading the bottom structure and record the coordinates. Take record of the boat next time out they will be fishing on your spot.

In the backwater, it takes a little more ingenuity to steal spots. Usually you’ll see the same boat in your wake or passing you while at anchor, slowing only to mark a chart with your location.

“Not fair ... that’s cheating,” you say.

Couple of winters back we had a bandit do just that day after day.

It was the start of the “season” and we noticed a bay boat with out-of-state registration, manned by three guys, showing up around corners when we were fishing our “spots.” You would see them peek from behind some mangrove trees with one guy marking up a chart.

A couple days later, when we were fishing the same creek, there they were, showing up on several of our spots as the day progressed. As our half day trips would end you would see them show again, just wanting to see if there was anything new to steal.

Never said a word, after all the water belongs to everyone, but decided to take some passive action.

At the end of our trip the next day, with the indulgence of my passengers, we set up on a non-spot carefully selected behind an extremely shallow oyster bar with a well concealed narrow channel as the only safe transit to the non-spot. Sure enough the bandits showed up a couple hundred yards away marking up the chart gleefully with their newly stolen spot.

A few days later, fishing a charter in the same area, we heard a commotion off a shallow creek to our left. There sat the bay boat lodged on the oyster bar in front of the non-spot with the sea towing service struggling to free the boat. They saw us as we turned to leave. They knew!

What’s etiquette here ? Simple. Thou shalt not steal!

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone followed a code of conduct in sportfishing to eliminate these breeches of behavior. Realistically, they won’t but you gotta keep trying, right?

Capt. Bill Walsh owns a Marco Island charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to dawnpatrolcharters@compuserve.com.

© 2013 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

HenryChinaski writes:

Unfortunately when the winter Vacationers are here many have left their etiquette, common sense and manners back where they live. Nowhere is this more evident than on our waters.

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