Fishing has its own unwritten rules of conduct anglers would do well to abide by on the water. Whether it’s how you treat the fish you catch or yielding your favorite spot to anglers who got there first, a universal understanding is in place.
It may seem odd, but these rules ultimately make the waters safe and enjoyable for all who visit them. Here are four of the most common unwritten, unspoken rules of fishing you should be following while you’re on the water.
Flagged for Infringement
If you notice that a spot is getting a lot of action, don’t just mosey on over in an attempt to join in. It’s better—and respectful—to wait for the other angler to leave before trying your luck, or simply come back later to see if it’s opened up. Trying to cram too many anglers in one spot leads to tangled lines, scaring the fish and more than a few angry glares, so make sure to leave more than enough room between you and your neighbors.
No Maids on the Water
My biggest pet peeve is when anglers leave trash and discarded tackle lying around. I’ve seen geese limping around with line tangled around their legs, for crying out loud. It’s lazy, slob behavior and contradicts everything fishing is about. Be kind to the environment by taking your trash with you when you leave the water or shoreline. In many places, actually, this is less of an unspoken rule and could actually cost you a hefty fine, so clean up after yourself.
Learn the Ropes
If you’re new to fishing and your friends are taking you out for your first time, don’t expect them to do everything for you. Yes, it’s all brand new and there’s a lot to learn, but take the initiative to learn some of the basics, such as tying a knot or casting correctly, so you don’t have to ask your friends to drop everything all the time. Refuse to do this and I promise you won’t be invited back.
Treat All Fish Humanely
Whether you practice catch-and-release or fish for your dinner, one thing everybody can agree upon is the importance of treating fish humanely. This is actually a regulation in many areas, as well. Some may think that there are “junk” species, such as dogfish, that deserve to be killed on the spot, but this can get you fined, depending on the state.