By Dave Langston

Right now I am going to tell you how I feel about slob sportsmen and disruptive boaters. I don’t like them. Simply put, unethical outdoorsmen have no business in the woods or on the water. Why am I writing this article and sounding so disturbed? Here is an example.

Slob sportsmen are unwanted on the water I fish!

Last year I was fishing at Twin Lake reservoir and kept my eye on a particular boat that was pulling a skier. After a few passes the boat kept getting closer and closer to a party of fishermen that were well out of the way from the middle of the lake. Finally, the boat came within 10 feet of the anglers and the skier got wrapped up in fishing line. Did I feel sorry for the skier? Not one bit. They new what they were doing but didn’t seem to care. They had the entire middle to themselves but thought they would ruin the day for everyone…and they did.

How about this one, we were fishing an area that was filled with bass but it was small and only had enough room for one boat comfortably. But another party of anglers noticed we were landing fish after fish and decided they wanted in on the action. Instead of waiting until we moved on they simply started up their engine and shot over to our honey hole and you guessed it, they started fishing neck-to-neck and arm-to-arm with us.

Now, I don’t own any of the water or the land surrounding the reservoir but I can tell you this, these were selfish acts and simply rude. I see these same acts every time I venture onto the water. If you are one of these people, now you know how we feel and what we are thinking every time you venture out. But hey, keep reading on and I’ll tell you how to become a better outdoors person that we all respect.

First, keep to yourself. Sportsmen are tight grouped individuals and most carefully choose whom they fish with or hunt. If you aren’t part of their group your not invited. A simple “Hey, how’s the fishing?” is good enough and move on.

Don’t stop with motor rumbling and ask if they have an extra sandwich because your wife forgot to pack you one. Sounds rude, but this is the rule on the water and you are expected to know this. One exception, if you have a hole in the bottom of your boat. But knowing how some die-hard anglers react, I may choose to swim to shore. But, that’s me.

Next, respect another’s space. This could be part of the keep to your self-rule, but it includes a bit more. If someone found a honey hole and fish are jumping into their boat like frogs on a hot skillet then stay away. They were their first, and they have first right. Look at it as if your older brother had a sports car and you were next in line to get it when he moves away. It’s not yours until he’s gone and don’t bother to even ask.

Don’t offer your catch to someone. Ok, here is the deal; I go fishing to catch fish…my own! Sometimes I catch fish and sometimes I don’t. The last thing I want is to have a bad day on the water getting skunked (no fish) and some ten year old comes up to me with a stringer full of 5 pound trout and ask if I want them and I also have to clean them to boot. I DIDN’T CATCH THEM! Don’t send your child offering me fish you don’t want to clean. I feel bad enough…how much can I take.

Now you have just insulted my hunter, gather, fisherman persona and I feel even worse than getting skunked if that’s possible. Although, I might take them if I have co-workers or even my wife to impress, but I would get caught in a lie and I would feel even worse. Don’t tempt us; it’s not a good thing. Bad things happen when we lie, or should I say when we get caught.

Bring enough bait. Ok, everyone on the lake is catching fish. They are all using worms and you didn’t bring any. Don’t ask me for bait. I don’t have enough. I new exactly how much to bring and how many fishermen were going and you were not part of the head count. I didn’t bring extra and I don’t know you so you’re out of luck on this one. I might barter though, how about six worms for that new rod and reel combo and did your wife happen to pack an extra sandwich and soda? No, you’re going to lose, better to run back the 20 miles and get your own.

It’s all fun and that is what the outdoors is about, but if you read through the fine lines there are lessons to be learned and we have all broke ethics before. Maybe not on purpose but still we have. And any outdoorsmen that says he hasn’t, well is simply not telling the truth. We all crave to have time to ourselves and with the ones we love and care about. The outdoors offers that to us but sometimes we forget and intrude on others private time.

If you have any doubts whether you should or shouldn’t then just don’t. Have respect for others and they will likewise; treat others like you want to be treated. Have fun, be safe and I’ll see you on the water.

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12 thoughts on “Fishing Ethics: Back Off My Boat!

  1. I’ve experienced some of the same situations, and yes, it’s very frustrating. Well written article.
    -Dan from

  2. I was fishing a particularly tough tournament on the Ohio River one day. I was a co-angler. My boater and I were catching nothing, and neither was anyone else really. My boater decided to go to another creek. There was one other boat back there. There was pretty much room for 2 boats to fish, but my boater pulls up about 10 yards in FRONT of the other boat. I just looked at the 2 guys and kind of shrugged my shoulders, like “what can I do”?? It was a beautiful little area. My boater cast by a stump about 3 times with a spinnerbait. When it was my turn, I threw a tube by it, and hooked a 4 pounder! It was a heck of a fight, and the 2 guys in the other boat were on the other side of the creek at this point, just watching me land the fish. I felt really bad. The guys looked at me and said “you just won the tournament with that fish”. I was thinking “no way!” I did end up winning with that one fish. After everything was over the 2 guys walked up to me and were like “we cast by that stump all day and didn’t get bit” I told them I was sorry about what the boater did, and they were like “yeah that was pretty messed up”. I liked the guy I was fishing with, until he did that!!! It was very rude, and I felt bad for catching that fish! (a little bit). It was my first win in the BFL, so I couldn’t feel too bad about it. It wasn’t my fault 🙂

  3. I agree to keep your distance but some of the other comments like not offering fish are just reasons to have a bad attitude.  Suck it up!

  4. Sure, I don’t want someone being so close that we get our anchor ropes tangled, but I don’t mind passing over a few worms, a bit of sunscreen or a drink of water. Don’t get too carried away Dave, there’s room for everyone and play nice !!

  5. One of the things I run into, Dave, is that some fishermen don’t believe they are boaters and the rules don’t apply to them because they’re out fishing and not “recreating” like the rest of the people on the water. My pet peeve is when they tear out of the launch ramp at a slower than normal, but greater than “Slow, No Wake” speed just so they can start fishing. Why does that annoy me you ask? Because at the marina where my boat is docked, my slip is the closest slip to a public launch ramp so all of those wakes hit me first. They also don’t seem to plan ahead and check the forecast, so when it rains, they all head back to the launch ramp at full speed. Guess who gets the brunt of that? I yell at them to slow down, but the majority tell me to go do something to myself that’s physically impossible.

  6. Don’t forget to mention the guys trolling who like to get in the way when we’re waterskiing. If someone is fishing where we like to ski (close to shore on the calm side) then we ski elsewhere. However, if we’re skiing on the calm side and someone trolls into our path I don’t fel bad if we get a little close. That said, I’d NEVER get close enough to get tangled in a fishermans line, thats downright stupid. I fish too and I’m always aware of others, fishermen and skiers, tubers, etc when picking my spot. Fish to close to me when I’m in an established spot and you may end with a spoon in your boat.

  7. Offering your catch to someone else:I disagree with the message you send about someone offering their catch to you. I don’t like someone else to offer me their catch because if they didn’t want to keep it them selves, they should release the fish to be caught another day, instead of keeping everything and then finding a hope for the fillets….

    I’ve never had a bad day on the water, but i have ran into quite a few inconsiderate individuals – who are not the majority.

    Have fun!

  8. While fishing on Hillsdale lake in NE Kansas with my son, grandson and father-in-law we were anchored next to a small brush pile fishing for Crappie when a couple of Bass fishermen and I use that term loosely pulled in our area and the boater made a cast over my boat into the brush pile. He got hung up. then he without even asking stepped into my boat to get his lure unhung. Only thing I feel is he was very lucky that my grandson was along or he would have had to answer for his rude actions.

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