Boating Etiquette

May 14, 2013  |  Conservation, Instruction, Reports, Uncategorized  |  Share

As spring is finally trying to give way to summer, the boats are getting uncovered and gassed-up, and canoes are starting to launch on rivers across the state and even the entire country. Wade fishermen are breaking loose from their bouts of cabin fever and dusting off the gear in preparation for what looks to be an awesome summer of fishing and recreational enjoyment on the water. Although there is no written set of rules on the water (other than wearing that PFD), it is always important to use the proper etiquette when on the water in any way, shape or form. Even though this piece comes from this writer and the fly fishing alter-ego that shall not be named, a foundation of good etiquette on the water can go a long way no matter what activities you enjoy while enjoying the waterways in your area. We have put our heads together to outline some of the most important aspects of etiquette out there on the water, so read up and enjoy!

As requested by the fly fishing alter-ego, we will start with the topic of boating on the river, as that is where we streamer junkies like to spend our free time. Lets be honest here, even the alter-ego knows that the anglers hold no more ownership to the river than the next person there to enjoy it, so we are just teaming up to throw out some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip out on there. For starters, lets talk about safety: always keep that life jacket or other appropriate PFD readily accessible as the situation can change in the drop of a hat. Not only is it the law, but its just a good practice. I don’t see much need to elaborate on that one, but the alter-ego wants to make sure that you understand, so just do it – trust us. Now that we have the mandatory safety bulletin out of the way, lets focus more on some good etiquette practices: from wade fishermen to powerboaters, we all have responsibilities as outdoorsmen(and women) to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing while at the same time helping others and protecting the resource for future generations. Lets start from the perspective of the wade-fisherman, that person that is just out enjoying the day on their favorite tailwater. They are usually standing about waist-high in some chilly water and I assure you they have no plans of achieving a membership at the wave pool, even if it is free of charge. If you are in a powerboat and come up on some wade fishermen, just remember to be considerate and slow to an idle speed whenever possible as it makes a much bigger impression than you think. One of the worst things that can happen in that situation is a boat coming through at full speed, or even worse, coming through at that wakeboard boat with full ballasts half-speed. A little consideration in these situations goes a long way and helps to ensure safety across the board. Another popular situation on the tailwaters is powerboats passing others in a boat that is drifting. A good rule of thumb is to give the boat approximately 100 yards on either side before accelerating from idle speed or whatever the slowest speed is that still moves you forward. A gesture like this makes a great impression on the water and keeps everyone safe. Besides, that minute or so spent at idle speed may even create a conversation between boats that can change your day of fishing for the better.

From powerboats, we move on to the topic of kayaks, canoes, and driftboats. Obviously these craft are not motorized, so it is very simple in the realm of tailwater etiquette when they are involved. If you are floating up to some fishermen or even some folks stopped somewhere just enjoying the water, be polite and give as wide a berth as the river will safely allow. If the spot in question is a narrow run and is occupied, let an angler make their drift if they have already cast, then ask to pass through. In my experience, some canoes and kayaks floating over a good run that you are working is not detrimental at all to the fishing, so all you anglers out there just do your thing and exercise that patience while remembering that the resource is there for all to enjoy.

Whether you are floating to fish the river or just out to enjoy the day, remember to always keep safety paramount on the water. Again, the fly fishing alter-ego wants to remind you to keep safety paramount on the water. Life jackets are your friend, not just something that takes up space on the rig. The alter-ego even likes to think of them as one of those things that’s annoying until you need it, at which point it’s the only thing that really matters. Once you have the safety bases covered, just remember to be polite out there and keep to the code. Not the pirate’s code, but the unwritten code that exists on the water that is extremely simple: keep it safe, always be considerate of others and their safety, and leave the resource better than you found it because no one wants to be part of the generation that wrecked it for the next one. From myself and the alter-ego himself, enjoy your time on the water and always leave it better than you found it. Good talk and see you out there.


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