Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
You might remember a blog from earlier this year about Opening Day etiquette (click here to read that piece again, if you'd like)! Navigating streams with other anglers can be challenging, and that's especially true on the Lake Erie steelhead streams. Crowds can be suffocating to the point some have given up fishing these waters completely. With the steelhead season upon us, it's the perfect time to get a little refresher on some etiquette tips to ensure that your day on the water will be enjoyable for all involved!
Errors in etiquette usually happen for one of two reasons: ignorance or malice. Sometimes, if it's the former, a polite little discussion can rectify the situation and leave both parties feeling good and a little more informed. If it's the latter, there's already a level of rudeness that's been displayed and no amount of civil conversation will end in a positive result. The hard part can be correctly guessing which situation you find yourself in!
Here's an example from steelhead season last year to highlight what sort of things can happen on those waters: I was fishing alone just a bit after daybreak. I had gotten there early and hooked a few fish right at first light, the last of which I was landing when I saw four other anglers walking upstream. The hole I was fishing was maybe 10 yards long and the perfect size for one angler to get a good drift. As I stood continuing to fish where I had all morning, one gentleman walked five yards upstream of me and the other three filed in below at similar increments. All of a sudden my once peaceful morning turned into an exercise in synchronized casting with my four new friends.
At first I didn't say anything, but after the angler downstream threw a cast upstream that landed right at my feet I remarked, "Boy you guys aren't leaving me much room here, eh?" The angler fired back, "Where would you like me to go, buddy?" Without even thinking I blurted out, "I don't care, but preferably not ten yards from where I've been since before sun up." The group of four reeled in and walked away. This wasn't a "win" for me, and looking back it was incredibly reckless what I did. There were four of them and one of me, and they obviously didn't mind the close quarters since they initiated fishing there. What if one of them was a hothead, or having a bad day, or took my comments as overly rude? That situation could have played out a whole lot differently and I shouldn't have left that to chance.
So what is an angler to do? Sometimes you might only find one or two prime spots in a given day and it's a bummer to lose out on one because of over-crowding from others. I've tried to adopt the motto "kill them with kindness." Be overly polite and courteous, and in the event of being overrun by others there's a way to say "you're crowding my space" without being confrontational. It's not always easy, and sometimes the only thing to do is reel in and move on, but staying in a spot just to prove a point is never the answer. Odds are you're fuming, and the others around you obviously don't care that you are all casting in unison. Is the point of fishing really to be annoyed the entire time? I'd much rather move on and enjoy a nice walk on the stream as opposed to being angry or fighting with others.
A few tips on the road to practicing good etiquette:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.