Educating Today’s Young Anglers

Last week we focused on some of the fishing etiquette issues pertaining to today’s up and coming anglers. We looked at “cutting off another angler” and “asking for permission to share a spot.” Today, we’ll continue to spotlight more of the etiquette issues that are taking place on all our lakes and waterways. In the world we live in today, there’s a wealth of ways to gain knowledge…reading, the internet, video archives or someone actually teaching and showing you what you need to know. By going to school, we learn, or at least have the opportunity to learn, and become educated. In the bass fishing world, 75% of what anglers learn is by someone teaching them or showing them how, why, and when…how to find fish, how to catch fish, how to maintain your boat, what techniques to use and when, along with why bass react the way they do in certain situations. But the one area we have failed as older generation anglers is teaching these young anglers fishing etiquette.

         In this article, we’ll focus on a couple more of the unwritten rules of bass fishing. Let’s look at how to handle angry dock or landowners. Nothing gets my blood boiling quicker than a private dock owner who comes out of his lake house and tells me I can’t fish his dock. Legally, as long as you stay in your boat and never step foot on his dock, you can fish it.  It’s a public body of water and the dock owner does not own the water underneath his dock, despite what he thinks. When I come across this scenario, I always have to take a deep breath before responding to his aggressive statement. I do much better when the dock owner “asks” me not to fish his dock. If he's doing maintenance work on his dock or the family is out on the dock enjoying themselves, it is best to pass it up anyway because of all the noise they’re making. While trolling by, it is nice to  always make a point to speak and say hello and wish them a good day. It is better to leave a dock owner with a pleasant experience rather than a negative one. But when the owner comes at you with aggression and threats, try to calm him down by saying hello and asking him why he doesn’t want you to fish his dock. Bottom line is this… it’s a good practice that if you see the dock owner, ask him if it’s okay for you to make a couple of casts in and around his dock.

With this approach you’ll meet some really nice people who don’t have a problem with you fishing their dock. But there is that 1% out there that will be total butt heads and make all kinds of threats from shooting a hole in your boat to calling the local authorities. Either way, it usually ends in a war of words between the angler and the dock owner. Best advice I can give on this topic…be nice and move on. 

         One thing that’s actually making our lakes and waterways more dangerous is speeding boats! I’ve had a few near misses on the water and 100% of all these incidents involved speed. Today’s bass boats are literally high-speed water bullets that young anglers have no experience or the skills to drive. Most tournament bass rigs today are 18-to-21-foot boats with motors ranging from 200 to 300 horsepower engines. Most tournament trails today have a motor size limit of 250 HP. But today’s young anglers think they need to run 80 MPH to get to their next fishing spot. I get it…when you’re young, you love speed and think it’s cool. But there are two people you need to be conscious of when running across the lake…the partner in your boat and other anglers you’re running by. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. It’s no different than driving a vehicle, you can be distracted and lose control quickly. SLOW DOWN!!! There’s no reason to drive at top end speed when moving around the lake. Be smart and conscious of other anglers on the water.  

         To wrap this up, I hope everyone who reads this article will take the advice I’ve given free of charge. The only way we can expect the younger generation to do things the right way is to teach them the right way. Most of the issues we’ve discussed are basically common sense. But as I’ve learned over the years, even common sense must be taught. Till next time good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to apply your sunscreen… Melanoma does not discriminate.

Steve Graf                                                                                           Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show &                                                   Tackle Talk Live