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> > Fly Fishing: Unwritten rules of etiquette

Report at a Glance

General RegionNew England
Specific LocationSwift River
Time of DayFrom 6am-3pm
Fish CaughtRainbow Trout, Brown Trout
Conditions & HatchesVaries. Dry Flies are my favorite and I will try them till there is proven no success!

Details and Discussion

HallicoNovember 5th, 2007, 9:53 am
Woonsocket, RI

Posts: 2
Folks, when someone is already in the river, you don't just walk right into their area and start fishing! Matter of fact, since you don't know the person, its rude to fish shoulder to shoulder! This isn't Montana! Even there, you can get shot for doing that! Doubt me? Pick up a Geirach book and find out! If I see people waiting for me to leave and give them some time, I do! How about returning the favor? How about being a decent person and not intruding on someone while they are doing what they love? Especially when they are with their son! I always knew that New England had a bunch of beligerent Kennedy wannabees, but I met my first ones this past weekend! I hope you know who I am writing about and you bury your head in the undercut! Shame on you! 10 years fishing the Swift and this is the first time I did not enjoy the 2 hour journey and my time on the river! I am very much afraid it it may not be the last time I go home wanting to throttle someone rude person who thinks only of themselves!
Doc
DanoNovember 6th, 2007, 8:24 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Hey Doc,

Did you "straighten out" these boors or just let them ruin your outing?

Personally, I don't put up with rude folks. I do give 'em the benefit of doubt, though. My first comment when something like that happens is, "You must be new." Their response or reaction determines what happens next....

Dano


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
MartinlfNovember 6th, 2007, 10:15 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2885
Dano, I like your opening. It reminds me of my first time out West. I was looking for a spot to fish on the Firehole and with someone almost every 60-80 yards I finally asked one guy who had a bit more distance between him and the next guy. He said, "you must be from the East; many guys here wouldn't be comfortable fishing so close to someone, but I don't mind." We had a great afternoon, with me inviting him on down to the hole I was fishing later when his rises started to thin out, then a couple of his buddies joined us later, first asking him if they could fish below him (not seeing me: I was hunkered down out of the wind watching for the next rise). He said it was OK with him, but they'd have to ask me too. I stood up and introduced myself then welcomed them. We all had plenty of room and plenty of fish, and it was a great day. I ended up feeling like a local with all the camaraderie that day. The spot I had ended up was very hot and several times when I'd release a fish they would give the thumbs up.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
FalsiflyNovember 6th, 2007, 10:55 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 656
Doc,
That reminds me of an incident several years ago on Colorado’s Roaring Fork. It was mid March and a prolific midge hatch was coming off. Having been fishing this hatch for years I have become quite successful at it (sometimes). Well three guys walked right in and lined up no more than a cast down stream from me. I continued to catch fish after fish while watching them continue to change fly after fly. They never caught a thing. It doesn’t often happen that way but when it does it sure puts a smile on your face.
Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
SlateDrake9November 6th, 2007, 4:06 pm
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
Hallico,

Sorry to hear about your experience. Sad to say, I encounter situations like this way too often in my area.

I am starting to believe that it is not always (sometimes is) ignorance of the other person per se, but lack of "local" etiquette.

The ettiquette in my neck of the woods is simple, if you are not friends with the person you encounter or with them from the start, don't fish within sight of them.

This is much different from the etiquette of someplace like the Lake Erie tribs, where if you can fit between 2 fisherfolks and not physically touch them, it's okay.

This is much different from the etiquette of some suburban fisheries in the state where being close enough to touch is too close, but casting to the same rising fish is not.

I guess this is the downfall of living and fishing in a place many folks come from other areas for vacations and try to bring along their etiquette (I guess you can read fishing culture in this).

The thing I never understand is why these people (term used lightly for some of them) believe that the "fishing culture" must change to accomadate them instead of them fitting into the "fishing culture" that they are visiting.

What happened to "when in Rome do what the Romans do."?

Another amazing thing to me is how pi$$ed off many of these folks get when you attempt to educate them about local customs. The ones that get upset are always the ones that have to tell me they have been comming up to "camp" for how ever many years and who am I to question them.

I usually just reply to them, "you and people like you are why tourist are referred to as flatlanders and mupears and such. Have a nice day."
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
FlybinderNovember 8th, 2007, 12:33 am
Oregon Coast

Posts: 60
This has been a really interesting post for me to read.
Mainly, because it shows me, two things......... "How different people can be, from one area of this country, to another and two....I'm more grateful for living, here in Oregon, every time I read a post like this one!

I'm not saying, surely, that "Oregon's fishermen are all a bunch of "Martha Stewarts" when on the water"!!Dear, God... far from it!! But, in GENERAL terms, only and for the most part, Oregonians seem to have a "live and let live" attitude when it comes to the outdoors. Maybe, it's because of just the cultural state of affairs out here!?! But, after living from Phoenix, to New York, then back here to the Pacific Northwest........ there's sure a huge difference in the way people here, treat others outdoors, as compared to other places.

Sure, we have our own share, (and then some), of stream hogs, rude encounters, know it alls, etc, etc, but they seem fewer and farther apart than what other states seem to "enjoy". In fact, I'd venture to say that for all the rude ones I've met on the waters here, when checking license plates, and/or, actually talking to some of them, they're 75% from out of state, or, have recently moved here, to Oregon.

Believe it or not, (according to some of my relations, still back in the South!), we DO have things like "running water and indoor plumbing" and no,"our family doctors are NOT, also, our family Vets"!! But, neither so we have the huge population base, that exist in the Midwest and back East.And, I think, that has a lot to do with the attitudes here,when in the outdoors.

We're not used to huge crowds, every time we turn around. There's not a city, within Oregon, that has a population of 1,000,000 people in it.
Our "rat race" is more like a "mice jog", really!! So,it seems, (to me anyway), that all of this plays a huge part in the "push and shove and rude expectations" that people of more crowded areas, must live in and deal with, every single day and that's BOUND to overflow out onto the waters where you fish!?

Moving around, like I have, it hasn't been in one continuous stretch but I've hunted and fished in Oregon now, for over 35 years and I honestly, have never ONCE "said hello" to someone on the water, that hasn't returned the greeting!
Flybinder:
"You should'a been here, NEXT week,the fishing's great!"
SlateDrake9November 8th, 2007, 5:33 pm
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
The county I live in has 16,000 to 17,000 perminate residents and is approximately 1081 square miles(say something like 16 perminate residents per square mile). Something like 75% of those square miles are uninhabited by humans (or deer these days). (I'm not doing any more math here, but feel free to if you really want to figure out our population density for the 25% inhabited land). Problem is when our population goes up to like 100,000 (guestimate, it seems like much higher during peeks, like opening days) during hunting season and who knows during fishing season (less than hunting season, but still much higher than the norm). There tends to be a lot of culture clashes on the streams and in the woods because the part-time folks are expecting to do things their way that they do "back home" and the full-time folks are expecting to do things their way "our way," and the two ways really don't mesh very well.

I just can't wrap my brain around why anyone would want to go on "vacation" and bring "home" with them. What's the point of leaving home then?
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
CaseyPNovember 8th, 2007, 6:06 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
B.J., i wonder if the culture class is a result of our being able to get where we're going too fast. if we had to drive for two days, ride a horse for one more, and then walk the rest of the way to go fishing, we'd know we'd gone somewhere. if it's only a couple of hours down the road, and there are McDonaldses and Blockbusters at every crossroads, we haven't really "gone away." maybe we don't sense the need to observe behaviour and act accordingly. a long time ago, someone wrote a book called "The Ugly American" which was about this exact problem; it was kind of simplistic, but easy for people to understand.
my own short tale: was in a small stream in PA casting to a ripple about three weeks after opening day. along the bank comes a man in hip boots with a spoon on a spinning rod. he smiles at me, stomps through the pool, casts from the other side and puts the resulting fish in his grocery sack. then he went on his way. my tongue was about three inches shorter when he left because i was the out-of-stater. i cast twice more at the ripple and my good behavior was rewarded with the biggest fish of the day...yes, i was totally surprised.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Shawnny3November 8th, 2007, 7:30 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Interesting observation, Casey.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Jmd123November 8th, 2007, 8:33 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2368
Guys, I'm sorry for all of the bad experiences you've had. My encounters with other fisherman have been overwhelmingly positive, usually resulting in pleasant conversation and an exchange of information on the ins and outs of fishing those particular waters. I don't think I've ever had another fisherman come up and crowd in on me (OK, I do remember one incident on a lake where I couldn't believe that this guy would fish so damned close to me - I did think it was rather rude). Practically everyone I've ever run into on a stream has been courteous, and of course I return that courtesy. While I've never asked if I could fish in the same hole, I have often asked if they would mind if I waded carefully past them to another hole upstream - and the answer has always been yes. Oh, and the only time I will fish in a crowd is during salmon runs - you've just gotta be where the fish are.

A few months ago I was out on the Huron, stopped to fix a leader tangle and tie on a new fly. Two other fly fisherman came up behind me, and we chated a bit about what we were all using and what had been caught. These guys were just about to pass me and go right through my favorite hole when I mentioned to them that I was just about to start fishing there, and they simply walked up the river bank and went downstream of me, with no objections whatsoever. Isn't that just the way it should be?

Jonathon

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
SlateDrake9November 9th, 2007, 5:25 pm
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
I blame MTV. MTV, to me, was the start of our culture of entitlement in this country.

These terrible encounters on a stream are very frustrating in and of themselves, but it is even worse when the a$$holes have their kids or grandkids along and are teaching them that it's alright to act like a$$holes and the folks who are actually using proper etiquette are wrong.

Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
TrevorCNovember 23rd, 2007, 10:12 pm
Interlochen, Michigan

Posts: 20
More websites, more fishing televisions shows, more people, pubilc land decreasing, the love of the sport, what do we expect to happen? Ignorant people "just don't know". It sucks, but it's a reality. Just like hunting whitetails, put on a pack, hike a mile, find a piece of nature untouched for the month, smile and enjoy. :)
I'll see you down on the river...
JADNovember 24th, 2007, 5:53 am
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362


(Guys, I'm sorry for all of the bad experiences you've had. My encounters with other fisherman have been overwhelmingly positive,)


Hi Guys

In fifty years of fishing---There has only been a couple of times I have been annoyed. I also fish Erie tribs a lot through the fall and winter no problems at all.

JaD

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
SlateDrake9November 26th, 2007, 7:24 am
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
I guess I just bring out the "best" in people. An example. I was fishing one of the largest trout streams in Pennsylvania about 3 years ago in the spring. The spot I was fishing was about 150 feet wide and at least waist deep from bank to bank (no I'm not a midget either). A group of 3 canoes was coming down the stream, which I was in about the middle of. They almost hit me, seemingly on purpose, as I could hear them b!tching about me being in the middle of the "f-ing stream" as they came down. As they passed by, one of them stated, "ya better watch you don't get hit with a paddle next time we come through." My response to them, right or wrong, was "you better kill me if you hit me with a paddle, because I'm sure you won't survive the lead you will get hit with if you don't kill me." Of course this caused the one guy to go ape sh!t and pull his canoe over to the bank and start really yelling at me, calling me all kinds of names, etc, etc, etc. I continued to fish, as I didn't really want to get into it with anyone. But when he was done, I made sure that I gave him one simple reply. I said, "Wow! You just really set a wonderful example for the 3 young boys in your group. With a role model like you, they have no choice but to grow up to be a$$holes." This seemed to upset him a bit more and I'll stop my story as the rest isn't worth mentioning. But I will tell you that they I did see them again the next day and they kept an appropriate distance that time.

By the way, most of the idiots in the canoes had flyrods with them.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
Aaron7_8October 15th, 2008, 5:23 pm
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Wow you guys have said it all. I have had run-ins but no0thing like some of you. The only times I have had a problem is on "famous waters" like Rock Creek or the Missouri by Craig and it was usually outfitters or out-of-staters.
TrtklrOctober 17th, 2008, 9:07 am
Banned
Michigan

Posts: 115
somebody ought to write a book about it. I have a friend who introduced me to trout fishing, he's a bit over zealous sometimes. this last spring when steelhead fishing, he was up river about 80 yards and caught a little one about 24". a fish he clearly did not need to give ground to(since he was chuck and ducking spawn w/20lb test)but he still walked that fish down thru the spot i was fishing and another 20 yards basically just to show me he caught it. I left immediatly mumbling and grumbling to myself. some people just don't get it.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
HellgramiteDecember 30th, 2008, 4:05 pm
Southern calif.

Posts: 45
Not to brag but i have been Trout fishing for almost 40 years and over 20 of those years on fly.When the movie "A River Runs Through It"came out so did all the Meat Heads.They thought it would make them an artist.So they showed up with there $60,000 SUV,$2,000 in fishing gear and Tripped all over themselves.So what i do is get as close to them as i can and catch a fish.Then i walk by them and say "What A Great Day"Some times they ask me what I'm using and i give them a quick flash of my fly and leave.Before This started to happen they would come over and crowd me out.So now I just leave and let them have the spot and when there done i go back and catch a nice fish.This is more fun than trying to deal with these Meat Heads
Baetis89January 2nd, 2009, 7:15 am
Montana

Posts: 4
If you see an outfitter acting inapropriately be sure and get the number off his guide tags. The guides number is required by law in Montana to be shown at all times while working commercially. If they are wade fishing simply ask their name or number and they will most likely tell you. Take your complaint to the F&G and I'm sure they will go out of there way to address the situation. Another option would be to call the state board of outfitters with your info and story. It's my observation that the vast majority of outfitters in Montana have good etiquette on the water. When you fish a tailwater stream like the Missouri the situation is alot different than most freestone streams. Fish seem to move a little bit out of there optimal lanes keep feeding and move right back on tailwater streams.Even if a sectionseems crowded if you can handle it, there are alot of fish to catch. Next time you see a boat approaching on a tailwater section while nymph fishing throw your flies close just outside the seam they are fishing. most of the time you catch the fish that used to be holding in there run. this technique keeps em honest especially if you hook up. Pods of rising fish & freestone pools/runs should be undisturbed by incoming anglers if posible. I fish from the boat 90% of the time. If I see more than 3-4 vehichles at a launch site I move on. Fly shops will change your shuttle at no cost if you cll them as soon as you recognize it's crowded.
uplandangler
LeakywadersJanuary 3rd, 2009, 1:01 pm
New England

Posts: 43
When I fish my home waters (where I grew up, not where I live) I can fish all day without seeing another fisherman's track. Unfortunatly, that is a four drive, each way, all uphill.
If I fish here in Mass, I expect to be interrupted. I usually just stop fishing, and stare. And stare. And stare. If I am standing in a stream, and they enter the stream below me, they would have to hit me to fish on by. That hasn't happened...yet.
On the other hand EVERY time another vessel has hit my kayak, they have said "Excuse me." I just wish they would say something before impact.
Drag free??? If the fly didn't drag, I wouldn't know where it was!!
Shawnny3January 4th, 2009, 7:49 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
If I see more than 3-4 vehichles at a launch site I move on.


This is a funny difference, I think, between East and West (as Louis alluded to). I've shown up at a favorite spot here in Central PA and found 20+ cars before (15 is routine). The tipping point for me at that spot is usually about 10 cars, and only then because I know most of those people will be too lazy to hike in a half-mile from their car. I'm thinking of going out to that spot today because the temps should be above freezing for the first time in a week (and it's the last day of Christmas break) - we'll see how crowded it is. My other favorite pressured water isn't much more open, but at least the road is close enough to the stream that you can see if someone's in a run before you get out of your car. Last year in March, on a Thursday, at noon, I went down there and drove about 3 miles of stream without finding a single run available; in some runs there were 5 people stacked in there (usually spinning).

I remember heading to Colorado a few years ago to fish with my uncle during prime season on some storied water, and he would complain about how crowded it was if we saw another car parked a half-mile away. We'd fish all day without seeing anyone, and he would be paranoid that someone would fish up to us if we didn't move fast. The only place we experience what I would call moderate to heavy pressure was on the Frying Pan. I suppose pressure is relative to what you're used to (see Lloyd's book for an interesting perspective on what constitutes pressure in different stream types and locales and how to deal with it). In forty years I'm sure all of us fortunate enough to still be around will be lamenting the crowded streams like many of the older guys of today do now.

I have had my share of run-ins with disrespectful people during my time in PA and NY, most of them not so funny at the time but making for funny stories years later. But for the most part I've run into really nice people out to do the same thing I'm doing - enjoy the stream and allow others to enjoy it, too. But when someone is rude, the best recourse is to catch fish in their boot-tracks, preferably while they're still close enough to see you do it. If you don't have enough skill or patience to do that, then burying them streamside is of course another satisfying option. Just be mindful of witnesses.

Of course it would be nice to have a book on etiquette. The problem is that the people likely to buy and read it are probably the same people who don't need to. A section in the state fishing regulations on etiquette might be more effective. They wouldn't even have to be regulations, just nice reminders, such as, "Please ask permission of another angler before you cast over his line, because he might be a serial killer." Stuff like that.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
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