Ethics, Etiquette, and On-Stream Courtesies
Every year more people take to the streams and rivers. Some believe that stricter regulations are needed to limit access to the best fisheries, to preserve them as natural resources. Instead of overregulation, perhaps the best solution is to adhere to the long-standing sportsman's code of etiquette, ethics, and responsibility.
The fly fisher's creed is best summed up this way: Treat other anglers, your surroundings, and your fish with respect.
Loop-to-loop joint step #1
Loop-to-loop joint step #2
Loop-to-loop joint step #3
Loop-to-loop joint step #4
Courtesy Toward Others
First, if people are near the water, you will want to take stock. Let's say someone is sitting on the bank next to a pool. They may be “reading” the water, waiting for the fish there to resume feeding after being disturbed. Before casting, ask the other angler if you may fish there. Cross streams downstream or upstream away from other anglers so you will not disturb them. When two anglers meet on a stream, the one casting upstream has the right of way. When another angler gives you a fly, open your box and invite him to take one of yours.
If you're boat fishing on a lake or on the ocean, don't cut between another boat and a school of fish or flat that the other boat is working. Keep your distance from another angler whose boat is trailing a hooked fish.
Never cross private property without asking permission first. Close all gates behind you. Try not to stir up the bottom as you wade. Slogging through a stretch of muddy streambed unearths clouds of silt and can destroy the fishing of those downstream. When you need to cross a stream, do so well above or below another angler.
Respect the privacy of other anglers. If you see a stranger catching fish, it is considered bad taste to ask what fly pattern he or she is using. On a crowded river, this “rule” is often overlooked. An experienced angler is more willing to share information if you have shown him or her respect. Trudging through their water will not earn their respect. Let the other person offer information before you ask. If you are having problems on the river, think about getting a guide or at least asking someone at the local fly shop for a few tips.
Courtesy Toward the Environment
Fly fishers traditionally have great respect for their surroundings. Pick up trash, even when someone else left it. Aldo Leopold, wildlife ecologist, once said, “Take only pictures, I eave only footprints.”
When you clip off any kind of fishing line, put the waste in your pocket and dispose of it at home. When crossing streams, cross gently, so you don't disrupt the stream bottom, which is the heart of the trout's ecosystem. If you remove stones to inspect for insects, replace them to preserve stream habitats.
Use paths rather than blaze trails along banks of rivers and streams. Bank erosion deposits silt in the stream that can interfere with aquatic insect life and fish reproduction. Be aware of your impact on streamside vegetation.
Join a conservation organization dedicated to protecting natural resources. For more than thirty-five years Trout Unlimited has been the leading trout and salmon conservation organization in the United States. The address is Trout Unlimited, 1500 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209 (703-522-0200). The largest nonprofit fly-fishing association in the world is Federation of Fly Fishers, founded in 1965 to help conserve, restore, and educate through fly-fishing. Their address is P. O. Box 1595, Bozeman, MT 59771 (406-585-7592).
Clinch knot step #1
Clinch knot step #2
Clinch knot step #3
Courtesy Toward the Fish
Use the heaviest possible leader so you can subdue a fish quickly, without exhausting it. Always use barbless hooks. If you can, release a fish without touching it. If you plan to keep your fish, kill it quickly with a sharp blow to the head with a rock or blunt object. (Don't let it gasp for air in a creel.) Gut it and bleed it as soon as possible, then store it in ice. It will taste better if cleaned as quickly as possible after being caught and cooked while fresh.
A Woman's Watery World
So, here it is, guys, a few simple rules to follow when you see a woman, any woman, afield. Tear it out, fold it up, and put it in your wallet. Next time, you'll know what to do.
If she is catching fish, and you are not, think about it. She may know something you don't. Beginner's luck really doesn't help much during difficult conditions.
Don't let the coy smile fool you. If she has a bunch of wind knots in her line, she could pluck them out just as easily as you, but will use all her charms to make sure it isn't she who's working instead of fishing.
When it comes to landing a big fish, she does like a little help … with tailing and netting. Indiscriminate streamside advice will be ignored.
If it is cold and she didn't bring a jacket, she will be happy to wear yours.
She can, and will, impale her own bait on her hooks; worms, maggots, minnows … whatever.
If the fishing is slow, really slow, she does not feel the need to stay unless the ambiance of the day demands.
She does not like to be ignored. If she is fishing to blank water on an unfamiliar stream, tell her. If she tells you that you are fishing to blank water, listen.
If she's catching fish and you're not, treat her like one of the guys; ask for help.
If you're catching fish and she's not, offer a pair of those special flies, but never in a condescending way.
Go ahead and take her picture when she catches a “big one.” Enjoy her success.
If this is her first time out, be patient, encourage her. Remember, this is fishing, not war.
Be kind and courteous. If you play it right, she may just share her bottle of Dr. Pepper and bag of Jolly Ranchers with you.