Friday, October 18, 2013

Fishing Ethics and Ettiquette

This is based on a post by Howard over at Windknots and Tangled Lines. Howard is a fantastic blogger and a real class act. When I read his blog post, I took the time to thank him for his approach because even though he was speaking about fishing ethics he didn’t do it in a shaming/condemning way, rather he took a more informative approach.

I will admit, even though I call my skill level intermediate, some of you guys have been fishing for decades and make my level of skill and knowledge look like a beginner. I don’t say that because of low self esteem or out of false humility, but simply honesty in the fact that I have a lot to learn and I’m only covering the surface. With that said, I want to learn. I am here to learn. I haven’t really had anybody correct me for doing anything “wrong”  except for one facebook comment and even then, I didn’t do anything illegal, just something that violated bass fishing “etiquette.” 

You see my profile picture of two healthy hearty bass?Thats the reason the facebook guy was mad.  I kept those sucker and ate them. Is it illegal? Hell No, I pay $45+ for a year worth of fishing and when I want to eat fish, I’m going to eat fish. With that said, I have never been a poacher or done anything stupid or illegal. I know most of the rules and usually look at the DFG handbook if I am confused about something. However, when it comes to “fishing ethics or etiquette,” I am not so well versed.

Although some may call it common sense, it is not common sense! Common sense would be,  “don’t catch fish just to kill them to leave them on the bank,” I think this is a great example of common sense as most people wouldn’t do something like this.  “Trout are a delicate species that require more care, and have a slime that protects them therefore it is best not to even take them out of the water,” is not what I would call common sense.   There are things that some have picked up along the way either from their fathers, grandfathers, other male role models, or even from other fishing buddies that weren’t common sense but rather acquired knowledge.

With this in mind, there are others that use this knowledge to try to argue with others or shame others into submission. I have choice words for that type of person, but I’ll keep those words to myself. Like the guy that called the fact that I had kept the bass in the above picture tried to shame me with his wisdom, what a rotten use of wisdom. On the other hand, my good fishing buddy Mark taught me that you must wet your hand when you catch and release a trout. My other good fishing buddy Sean taught me that you shouldn’t lay a trout on the floor because of the slime on them and their eyes possibly being damaged from being on the ground. If it weren’t for these guys I would be dry handing every trout I catch and tossing them on the floor! But because they took the time to share their knowledge with a fellow fisherman starting out, I now know a couple of these “unwritten rules” that give fish that are caught and released a better chance to survive.

All this to ask this:  Can you please take the time to share a rule/fishing ethic principle or two here in the comments ? (or feel free to e-mail me with them as well)

This could be for fly fishing or just fishing in general. I am doing this for myself but also, I would like to include a blog post/page on fishing ethics for beginning fisherman on this blog.

Thanks for your help everybody!!


  1. Out among many of the blogs are lists of rules for fishing etiquette. Out on the Internet there are also several list of do's and don'ts, but just by being considerate of other fisher's (now the politically correct way to say fishermen and fisherwomen) will go along way. We can talk more Thursday.

  2. Must acknowledge that I think that it was very genuine for you to approach the whole subject the way you did on this post. Being open minded and willing to learn and want to learn will take you along ways in fishing. Rest assured, you are going to run into many who will be willing to give you advice or "tell" you how do things a certain way. Keep in mind that you may have to pick and sort through this information to really get the feel for what you believe and what you intend to store in your memory bank,

    Howard and Mark are great examples of folks who have spent many years learning how to do what they do best. Remember, at one time, they were just like you. Young and full of it, so to say. Meaning that they did things that were brought into question or they did things that they wouldn't do with today's knowledge. Through experience they have been able to sort out their thoughts on what they believe. I am confident you will do the same.

  3. I tip my hat to you J for being up front. We fishing people tend to think that everything we need to know just comes naturally because we are all so smart. Keep watching and asking questions. You'll know the difference between good advice and bad because the good advice will just make sense. Don't feel badly about eating your catch. That's an honest non-wasteful thing to do. Trust your gut feelings.

  4. I think the key ethic for me is respect for the resource: helping create a better environment, a reverence for the beauty of nature, and teaching others the joys of being outdoors. Though I practice catch and release 95% of the time I see nothing wrong with sustainable harvest. Enjoy your catch and don't let others ruin the sport for you.

  5. Nice post. I agree with all you said and the other fellows who commented. I would add that C&R practices are important, but a lot of know-it-all anglers get way too worked up over seeing any fish kept... like you've committed a grievous sin. As long as you aren't exploiting a resource, i.e. keeping every fish you catch every time you go out, then things should be fine. It's important to practice C&R in an informed manner too. Keeping Crappie, other panfish/sunfish, or stocker Rainbows would be better choices than native, wild, naturally reproducing fish of any species... especially in river habitats. Conservation is often defined as the "wise use of resources"... and I think you're well on your way to gaining the wisdom of a conservation minded angler.