Doing unto Others
The Subaru had a long, drooping, seemingly homemade rod carrier attached to its luggage rack, and the angler was just getting out of his car to pick up his mail as I was walking toward mine. I’d seen his vehicle parked at some of the turnouts along the river, so I said hi and asked him how the fishing was. He told me. I was impressed. This fellow was from out of the country, staying for the season, and fly fishing here, particularly for visitors, can be a frustrating experience. Even accounting for the usual anglers’ exaggerations, he was doing relatively well.
“One thing, though,” he said. “Do you [Americans] always fish so close together? A fellow got into the river not twenty feet from me today and started casting to the water I was fishing.”
“Spin or bait?” I asked, assuming the trespasser wasn’t accustomed to the needs of our sport.
“Neither,” he replied. “He was a fly fisherman.”
Being in the business, I hear complaints like this fairly frequently and over the years have run stories about giving other fly fishers adequate space. The basic rule is simple: treat others as you would like to be treated. On a stream, this means having the ability to fish, as thoroughly as reasonable, a section of water that has been rested.
Fishing a particular run or pool at the same time as someone else is not just impolite, but frankly idiotic, because the success of both anglers will suffer. Walking around another angler and fishing the water just upstream or down, if the other angler is moving in that direction, is also rude, because the activity will put the fish down. A rule of thumb, formulated, I think, by Al Kyte, is to judge how quickly someone is fishing and give that person an hour’s distance on the river.
Clearly, this is difficult to achieve on waters that are pressured or that have guide traffic, both of which are true where I live. But still, the basic premise of being considerate is a good one. It’s been said our society is becoming increasingly uncivil. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the opposite was true for the places we fish?
And really, the choice is ours.
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