Fly Fishing Ethics [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fly Fishing Ethics

10-11-2002, 07:29 AM

Ran into this a while back in my web fly fishing surf endevors.

Some good principles to follow on the river or lake, etc..

The big question is what is your personal reaction when another angler violates these principles and interrupts your fishing experience and personal code of FF ethics ?

I have had my confrontations on the rivers in my younger days but now depending on the profile of the other angler (s) will decide whether to inform them of what they are doing wrong.

It would probably would be good if all rivers had some types of ethics posted at major entry points to the river. I have only seen these on a couple of rivers to date.

If anyone knows of any let me know cause I may want to schedule a trip to there.

10-11-2002, 11:49 AM
Hal, While the govenor makes valid points. In my opinion it won't do a bit of good to post those rules along the stream. For the most part they involve the golden rule and common sense. The people that need to heed them the most are the people that will pay them the least attention or tear the signs down and throw them in the brush or shoot them all to hell. The problem is SELFISHNESS and GREED and it's not just on the river. You see it on the freeway, in stores, after sporting events, in business, schools, and even in places of worship. Unfortunately selfish greedy people are everywhere. Until this problem goes away (don't hold your breath) things will not improve much on the river. This is the cause of the same problem Watersprite and Flytyer have been addressing. If you could change peoples behavior with a sign people would not run red lights, would drive the speed limit, there would be no litter on the road ect. I will admit that the picture I paint is a sad state of affairs but I don't think things are going to get better in the near future. My personal reaction when I'm low holed or a drift boat runs over my line or something simuliar happens is to say a few truck driver swear words to myself and get on with my life as best I can. If it is a young person or an obvious newbie I will gently try to enlighten them. If it's what appears to be an experienced fisherman I just figure he's one of the people mentioned above and ignore him. As I've gotten older my confrontational side has given way to saving my energy for breathing and wading.

Bob Pauli
10-11-2002, 11:43 PM
On September 10, 2001, I flew from San Francisco to Smithers, B.C., to fish the Bulkley, Skeena and Kispiox Rivers. The next morning life in the U.S. changed forever.

While on the Skeena, a Canadian gentleman walked up to me and asked, "Are you American?" I answered yes, and he gripped my right hand in both of his, looked me very directly in the eye and said, "we are with you!." It was, to a stranded American, a welcome and comforting expression of solidarity.

This August, on the lower lower Dean River, B.C., while fishing the archeological hole, I noticed a man sitting quietly at the end of the run. He showed no sign of impatience, and I thought he might be a bird watcher or other naturalist, for surely no fisherman would be so unobtrusive. Thirty minutes later I stepped out of the run, and the man stood with rod in hand, and asked politely if he could begin fishing a couple of hundred feet below the end of my run. I began a conversation and learned he was a Canadian who owned property on the Dean. I thanked him for his courtesy and left with an enduring respect for the courtesy and ethics of Canadian fishermen.

I tip my hat respectfully to our neighbors in Canada, and hope I have the opportunity to reciprocate in my home waters.

10-12-2002, 01:07 AM
I have found that if someone in a boat runs over my line, it usually isn't worth saying anything because unless I have my boat with me, I can't follow him, nor get to him. Therefore, I try too remain calm, say nothing unless the clown asks me how fishing is (then I'll give him an earful), and then get on with fishing after he leaves.

The only folks I usually say anything to who are discourteous that I run into are newbies and younger folk (people in their 20's) because I figure they haven't been taught fishing ethics yet. The older folks and the guides who have done such things to me are not worth saying anything to since they will not change and I have only wasted my breath.

When I was in my 20's and 30's I probably would have stoned the sucker or threw a line over his bow. Age has taught me that stoning or throwing a line over the sucker's bow solves nothing.

10-12-2002, 01:32 PM
Ethics, as it is framed in this context amounts to "Common Sense" and Maturity. A kind word from a fellow angler will be more productive than a treatise or a dressing down.
I enjoyed the essay, but it is preaching to the quire.

10-14-2002, 08:52 AM
I agree with your comments, fishing is a sport with no barriers to entry it is open to every one. Until there is some form of barriers to entry such as individual education and testing, greater communication of fishing ethics and rules. on water enforcement, things are not going to improve.

Interesting, golf is also a sport with no barriers to entry, open to the public, but has formal documented rules and ethics, which the public genereally adhere to. Plus there are on course monitors of play on all courses. No matter what course I am on I do not see major deviant variances from the expected ethics of golf.

Until fishing has documented/communicated ethics and on river monitors of play we will be subjected to major proper behavior variances. Also need ethics for river boating, which this article did not address.

I bet in Europe where they have full time River Keepers, ethics and other fishing rules are practiced and enforced.

P.S. This is a world wide public forumn so what we say here hopefully will have a postiive impact some others.

10-14-2002, 01:54 PM
I don't know who the rivers belong to in Europe but in this country the rivers for the most part belong to the public. That includes the idiots, the ill mannered, the greedy, the bait slingers and all the rest of the fishing public. I for one will take our system over anyone else's even if I am inconvienced at times. The last thing I want see is another bureaucracy created to tell me when, where and how I can go fishing. We already have enough of that.

10-15-2002, 11:56 AM

In Europe the private land owners own the river sections including the river beds up to the mid point or some other legally specified location. They may even own the water, there were some other threads on this issue earlier this year as I recall. They control who can fish and float the river. Actually I don't think you can float the rivers in Europe like we do here in the states with out breaching their laws. There also is not as an extensive national or state park system like we have in the U.S. providing large amounts of land and water resources for public usage.

Thats why most of their river, and lake fishing for that matter is privately controlled and much of it is pay to fish. Anglers are controlled which it appears result in a higher quality angler experience.

As the U.S. waters become more congested and abused by the public that is probably where we are heading unless more controls are put in place. Probably will not happen in my remaining life time (20-30 years I hope) but thats where it appears to be going.

Even in the western states like Idaho there has been greater demands placed on the fisheries which appear to be abusing the fishery and the quality of the fishing experience. If I went fishing to Idaho I would think it would be with out crowds but that is probably not the case.

European countries have had over population and land/water constraint issues for several hundred years, which they have had to implement more bureaucratic legal controls to conserve these diminishing natural resources.

If it gets much worse, I will probably be dropping fly fishing like I did hunting 30 years ago due to the overcrowding issues I was faced with back east.

I am sad to say the good old U.S. fly fishing days of solitude on a quality river during the peak periods for the most part are gone in my opinion.

If you know of a quality uncrowded river or lake keep it your personal secret. I have a few.


10-15-2002, 01:04 PM
Hal, your does have it's rules and at least in Golf only your foursome can play the same hole, another forsome can't do it is perfect for rules.( with the exception of St. Andrews, where there are cross overs, etc.). I am too old now to get worked up..but, if I see a sub legal striper taken ,I give the person an earful... I then point him or them out to everyone I know in the area.. the beach etc... and I know a lot of them.. so if they get that feeling of being stared at...good.

10-15-2002, 02:15 PM
This isn't a crack or a dig or anything remotely close, so just hear it for it's content -

You also fish far less 'dangerous' waters, so it's easier to get away with embarrassing a googan and have people notice said googan's actions; as I'm sure you recall, this same discussion has been taken up on another board or boards, with apropriate admonitions to watch for weapons carried by unconcerned scofflaws (I'm just as apt to make a big noise and be challenging toward a violator, so just remember this is a 'we all want to go home in one piece' pursuit).

10-17-2002, 11:58 AM
I guess the poorest display of ethics has to be when I lived on Kodiak Island Alaska. The "visiting" fly fishers would become so wrapped up in catching salmon that they would litterally drive you out of a hole. I would catch one fish and within minutes be surrounded by fly fisherman casting in all directions. Some of the more popular spots (holds the most fish) would be avoided entirely by locals because of the number of fights that broke out over space (the "Pump House Hole on the Buskin River for example).

10-18-2002, 09:23 AM
ah combat fishing. I wonder if it's worse in Kodiak or closer to the airport here in Anchorage. But y'know...I think locals are just as bad about it when it comes to those streams. I know I show up, wait for access to a hole and maintain ownership of that slot til I have my fish.

Crazy, since on smaller streams that aren't so pressured, the same idiots (m'self included) are much more polite about finding another run to wait their turn on the nicer run...generally...but there are an amount of tourons who will behave the same way on a quiet stream and then all I want to know is 'who told them about this place.'

10-19-2002, 07:40 AM

These are general angling ethics not specific to fly fishing but they are something. Unfortunately, they have not been communicated uniformly and there is no adequate enforcement mechanisms. Until this is done we are going to have problems since there are no "barriers to entry" to obtain a public fishing license. Any one that has the money can obtain one except for those very few which have had their fishing rights taken away due to prior violations. This is an infestimal amount of anglers though.

In my corporate management postion amongst other things I am responsible for implementing new north american business programs and beleive me even after you have communicated to 10,000 professionals you have some control over, never think they are doing what you have told them to do. With angling ethics you are dealing with the general public and you know what that means ? So until we have reasonable communication and enforcement of the regulations including ethics we are going to see aberrant behavior. I don't see major improvements happening in my life time since it would take a decade or two for this to have an impact should our state DNRs get their acts together.

Maybe the best thing to do is to work on your home waters DNR and perhaps the success of one state will spread to others like it has with other things.

In the mean time I am open to fishing privately controlled quality fishing reserves for a fee. If that is what I have to do get some solitude and reasonable fishing in a pristine natural setting so be it. Thats where the Europeans have gone and beleive me they are more knowledgeable of the issues they we are. If they had not went to private fee based controlled river fishing they would have nothing left to fish in due to dense population and industry pressures upon the resources.

"The Code of Angling Ethics as adopted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and Trout Unlimited all contributed to the development of this code.

Promotes, through education and practice, ethical behavior in the use of aquatic resources.

Values and respects the aquatic environment and all living things in it.

Avoids spilling and never dumps any pollutants, such as gasoline and oil, into the aquatic environment.

Disposes of all trash, including worn lines, leaders, and hooks, in appropriate containers, and helps to keep fishing sites litter-free.

Takes all precautionary measures necessary to prevent the spread of exotic plants and animals, including live baitfish, into non-native habitats.

Learns and obeys angling and boating regulations, and treats other anglers, boaters and property owners with courtesy and respect.

Respects property rights, and never trespasses on private lands or waters.

Practices conservation by carefully handling and releasing alive all fish that are unwanted or prohibited by regulation, as well as other animals that may become hooked or entangled accidentally.

Uses tackle and techniques that minimize harm to fish when engaging in "catch and release" angling. "