Surf: Etiquette 101 - The Fisherman

Surf: Etiquette 101

Use judgment when fishing. If many anglers are in one spot it may be better to fish in solitude. (Photo by of Matt Broderick)

Etiquette at the beach will lead to more fishing time and more fish caught.

So it’s the fall run, there’s fish boiling and blowing up all over the place. I grab my rod and jump out of my truck to make a few casts. Being that the fish are almost beaching themselves and I’m using a 10-foot rod I choose to keep my sneakers and sweatpants on rather than suiting up. In my first cast, I’m greeted with a small bass. A few anglers down the beach see my quick success and make their way over to where I’m fishing. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, fishing near someone who is set up on a better piece of real estate than you is acceptable as long as you keep some distance and follow their lead.

What do I mean follow their lead? Well to start off, the person up tide should really be a step ahead of the guy down tide. This way if the angler uptide hooks up and the fish swims down tide, the anglers down tide are not getting a fish and hooks buried in their legs. Pay attention to where everyone is casting and where their plug is. Wait until the person uptide of you is halfway in before making your cast to avoid tangles. You never want to be the guy that walked into a lineup of anglers bailing fish and started crossing everyone’s lines. If you’re not sure if you’re clear to cast, ask the guy uptide of you where their lure is and if you’re clear to cast.

Remember don’t ever walk in front of someone just because you’re suited up and they aren’t. If you feel the need to push out move up tide and keep distance on your left and right to avoid tangling and having the guy behind you bury his plug in your legs. Too many times I’ve seen tangles occur that could’ve been avoided and a large part of a bite being missed because of it. This works vice versa too, just because you don’t feel like suiting up doesn’t mean you can stand directly behind someone. Proper etiquette would be to suit up and walk out with the angler ahead of you or bump downtide to avoid any tangling issues.

So you and your friends are fishing a stretch of beach and you want to walk down a good ways to another piece of structure. It’s a rocky, uncomfortable shoreline to walk on, so you pop your light on to see where you’re going. This is just fine to do, everyone does it. This doesn’t mean shine it everywhere you look though. I even wrap my hand around the front so I only light up where I’m walking. It’s disrespectful to shine your light all over an area that someone is fishing. If you need to use the light near another angler, use it as little as possible and try to turn towards shore when you are.  This means when unhooking a fish or changing plugs try to do so facing the beach rather than the water.

Driving the beach in your truck has its do’s and do nots. Headlights are definitely necessary on the beach and the road. With that being said, you don’t want to park your truck staring at the water with your lights on. Imagine being in the dark for hours and then someone beaming a light in your face, it’s uncomfortable and kills the limited night vision that humans may have. So next time you’re coming down the beach and you see someone fishing at the water’s edge it’s courteous to use your parking lights as you ride by them. I’m not telling you not to look where you’re driving, but be cautious and courteous of those fishing the water you’re driving past.

Proper etiquette amongst anglers leads to a better outing for everyone. Fishing with your peers rather than against them will always ensure a better outing. Being aware of the anglers around you and what they’re doing will lead to fewer confrontations on the beach. Fewer confrontations mean more time fishing and more fish to be caught. If you don’t feel that you can stand in a lineup and effectively fish the same way everyone else is, there’s nothing wrong with sliding down past a lineup to give yourself the space you need. Like I mentioned before, there’s no need to be the guy that crams into a lineup just to start crossing and tangling other anglers’ line. Etiquette at the beach will lead to more fishing time and more fish caught. Always fish with your peers, not against them.


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