It’s memorial day weekend. With the three day weekend comes the crowds. A mindful angler has 2 options. The first and in my mind the most ideal is to find ones own water whether it private or off the beaten path. The second option is to respectfully interact with other anglers on the river. Angling etiquette is tricky because it really can vary depending on the location. Here are a few things that will help you make friends and catch more fish.
1) Be friendly. Anglers more often than not are awesome people. Say hello and smile. Friendliness goes a long way out there. Talking to other anglers is a great way to gather intel and make friends. If you have a fly that has been working for you; offer one up. It is a nice gesture and can go a long way on the river. I’ve met some of my best friends fly fishing.
2) Give Plenty of Space. “plenty of space” is fairly nebulous, but here are a few things to consider. How much effort did it take to get to the location? If you are at the Hat Creek Power House 2 Riffle being shoulder to shoulder is to be expected. Hat Creek PH2 it is both widely known and easy to get to. The amount of space you give is directly proportional to the amount of effort it took to get there. If you come a across an angler further away from the road. Ask the other angler which direction they are fishing (upstream or downstream?) This tells you two things what water has already been fished and will help you avoid low holing the other angler. If you are close to the “parking lot”, under a mile, it is usually customary to go to the next hole or run up or downstream. Past a mile I usually like to put a few (3-4) runs in between me and the other angler. If you are in a boat don’t fish the hole or run that a bank/wade angler is fishing. Don’t worry you will have many more fish catching opportunities than the bank angler.
3) Respect the secret spot. Inevitably you will have someone take you to one of their beloved fishing locations. To find new water, one has to go down lots of dead end roads. It takes a lot of effort and determination. I’ve heard stories of blindfolds even being used to protect secret locations. If you had no part in putting the hard work into finding the spot, respect the person that did and keep it to yourself. Trail blazing anglers are rare, there is an insatiable curiosity for what’s down the next bend, always wondering where that road goes ect… If you have a friend like this, respect the efforts and lock your lips. I have seen great friendships die horrible deaths over “River X.”
4) Good Casting. Being stealthy is important; you don’t want to be flogging the water with unnecessary casts. If you are a better caster than the other anglers on the water you can often hit the spots that others just can’t reach. I like to think of it as private water. If your casting could use some improvement; I teach a class every other Wednesday at 6:45 called “in search of the perfect cast.”
5) The Obvious. “Pack it in, pack it out.”, “Don’t feed the bears” , “Respect the environment.” , “Fish barbless and practice catch and release” , and “Only you can prevent forest fires”