Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
Remember, if you can't spot the jerk on the trout stream...you're the jerk. Check out these tips to avoid trouble during your time on the water.
1.) Fish Aren't Worth Fighting Over
Last fall I was fishing a steelhead run on Elk Creek in Pennsylvania. I'd been working it for a few hours when three other fisherman (bait fisherman, but that's neither here nor there) started walking upstream. The guy in the lead stopped about 10 yards downstream from me (an error in its own right, see #4 on this list) and began drifting a 7 inch bobber and skein cluster almost directly in front of me. Fisherman number 2 then proceeded to move 10 yards upstream from me and start fishing with a similar rig. I then said "Man, you guys aren't leaving me much room are you?" He replied with "What are you gonna do about it?"
I reeled in and walked away. Did I want to offer some sort of retort? You bet. Did I want to grab the biggest rocks I could find and throw them into the pool before leaving? More than I've ever wanted anything before. None of it matters though, because it's fishing. The whole situation reminds me of politics. If those guys couldn't understand how stupid and offensive they were being, nothing I said was going to show them the light. Sometimes it's best to just find your fish elsewhere.
2.) Pack It In Pack It Out
There is nothing worse than hiking into some secluded section of trout stream only to find it pillaged by trashy fisherman. Pack it in pack it out is way more than just an Instagram hashtag, it's a mantra to live by. There's no excuse for leaving garbage all over the place. Whether you have a fishing pack or vest, whatever you bring in with you will surely fit on the way back out.
3.) Don't Mess With Spawning Fish
Another one with multiple social media tags using "redds" as a play on words, but for real no one likes to rake over spawning fish. If you see a pair, or trio, of fish doing nature's dance please leave them alone. If not for the continuation of the species do it for your fishing soul. Side note: It's also really cool to watch fish work spawning gravel. Sometimes it's important to observe all that nature has to offer without constantly trying to exploit for our own personal gain.
4.) Watch Where Others Are Fishing
...And then don't fish there. If you need to catch fish bad enough to elbow up right next to somebody, then you probably need to reevaluate a few things. Give other anglers enough space and find some fish elsewhere. This is easier said than done when the other angler has a pile of steelhead in front of him/her, but a walk along a stream in search of unmolested fish is considerably more fun than verbal altercations because you drifted into someone else's line and now you're both tangled.
5.) Know The Rules!
River/stream usage rules vary from state to state so it is imperative that you understand them inside and out. For example in states like Montana anglers may fish a stream from the banks within the high water mark without fear of persecution from landowners. The part that isn't mentioned in that law is that you first have to get to the stream to be within the high water mark. It is unlawful to trespass through someone's land in order to wade the stream.
That rule is entirely different in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and many others. In these states the landowner owns the physical stream bottom. That means even if you stay within the physical confines of the stream or river you are trespassing. Now, this issue gets even messier and more confusing where there side issues such as whether or not a river is "navigable" and what that means for boater and angler rights. The long and short of all of this is know the laws for the state you are fishing, and know them well! Ignorance of the law is no excuse and upsetting landowners only makes it worse for everyone else!