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Common Courtesy Among Anglers of Immediacy

We live in a society of immediacy. It didn’t always use to be that way. I remember as a kid, you “went out to eat” once or twice a month. You didn’t go through the drive-thru everyday for lunch. I remember, you could play the Atari on the weekends. You certainly didn’t play games on a phone you carried in your pocket whenever the urge struck you. If we were lucky, we got to go to the movies once a month. We didn’t download it to our TV or computer and watch it anytime we wanted.

Unfortunately our immediacy of everything has carried over into fishing. I remember when I was growing up fishing, if you saw a guy on a bank, you didn’t pull down 50 yards in front of him and start fishing; you let him have the bank. I remember when you saw fish schooling and a boat catching them, you didn’t run over on top of them and start casting.

But most of all, I remember when you were fishing a spot that guys would not run you over, stop right on top of you and start fishing. There weren’t as many fishing tournaments on the lakes back then. There weren’t as many anglers who owned boats. And anglers had a lot more respect for each other than I’ve seen in recent years.

This weekend, I fished with a friend, and we were idling over a spot that was loaded with fish. We were marking a big school of bass on side scan, and we got excited. We were trying to understand how the spot laid because the wind was bad, and we wanted to get a good lineup.

As we’re idling back and forth, zig zagging over the spot, another boat races up to us and kills the outboard. The driver runs to the front of the boat, drops the trolling motor and makes a cast, mere feet away from us.

This angler was fishing a tournament. More than likely he had found these fish days before on his own. But the point is, we were already there. I continued trolling over the spot before finally stopping to fish myself. They caught bass and we caught bass. In fact, we caught bigger bass than we saw them catch. They were measuring every fish and ours didn’t need to be measured.

We were fishing for fun, and they were fishing a tournament. But whatever happened to idling up to another boat and saying, “Hey we’re in a tournament, and we found this school here a week ago. Would you mind if we fished here with you?”

I would have left the spot and let him have it. Because I would have appreciated the gesture from a fellow angler in our usually great fishing community and repaid it. But the principal of the matter made me stay and yank on the bass until they quit biting.

We were fishing for fun. They were fishing for money. We were excited to have found a good school of bass. They seemed empowered to force us off the spot.

If you live on Guntersville or Kentucky Lakes, you know what I’m talking about. Just about everytime I talk to fishermen on these lakes, I hear phrases like “bent-pole pattern”, “waypointed”, “hole jumped” or “point pirates”. In fact some of the best sticks on these lakes, have quit fishing all together because it got so bad.

I consider this practice of going to someone else’s fish, spoiled behavoir at best. It goes back to that immediacy I was talking about. We don’t want to have to work or put much effort into anything anymore. We don’t want to even talk to another angler and feel entitled to anything on the water. We want to just go and do what we want the moment we feel like it without any consideration for anyone else on the water.

Some great anglers have taken me fishing on Kentucky Lake, the likes of Terry Bolton and Curt McGuire. You know how many times I’ve been back to their spots without them? ZERO. Not once. Because I have too much respect for both those guys. And I don’t ever want to be talked about in that negative way for having waypointed their spots

For me fishing is about finding the best fish you can on your own. It’s not about catching them. Most good anglers can catch fish when they get around them. But the best anglers are also that adept at finding them.

Find your own fish, and know that if you found them, someone else probably did too. But if someone is on the fish, at least have the common courtesy to let them have it until they leave. At the very least, do the polite thing, and ask if you can fish with them.

None of us own anything on the lake. If you drop a brush pile in the lake, it just became the lake’s brush pile. If you find a school on a shell bed, it’s not your school. Work to find the best fish and if someone happens to be on them, go to your next deal.

When the fish quit biting on this spot, we left it to the other boat. We meandered down the lake and found another school with good keepers in it. The fish are always biting somewhere else too. So be courteous to your fellow angler.

Don’t think I’m singling out tournament anglers. I’ve had crappie anglers throw anchors right on top of spots while I was fishing them on Lake Guntersville. I’ve had anglers troll over schools of fish while I was fishing them.

I love tournament fishing, and I love sharing the sport with other anglers. Yet experiences like this make me wonder if this sport may already be too big for its britches. Like my parents did with me, sometimes we need to be reminded that common courtesy goes a long way

I would love to hear your thoughts about this. I’m sure I’m not the only one surprised or frustrated by the lack of respect among anglers. Comment here, share in the discussion on our Facebook Fan Page.