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River etiquette

April 26, 2012

Many of us experience the unmentionable kayaks, canoes and tubers while fishing. Seems they have no idea, lack caring or simply lack courtesy toward us. How many have come almost on top of us—even knocked us over at times—thrown stuff in the water, splashed uncontrollably, gotten out to take photos and other activities for no particular reason. They’ve just ruined our fishing for at least 30 minutes or longer. Fish see that huge shadow coming over, commotion from paddles and kicking, and immediately flee for their life. Then, if you have canoes or kayakers coming every few minutes, you might as well go somewhere else or home.

They need to share the streams with all that want to recreate in whatever manner. It’s like a driver on a highway that gives right of way to other drivers and people without doing any harm to either. You don’t come close to a person or car on the road, similarly canoers, kayakers and tubers need to steer clear of people fishing. It’s not all of them, but there are many that disregard some sense of stream etiquette.

Suppose you were in the stream and they approached and we said “you have to wait 30 minutes while I fish this spot.” In terms of our rights to fish and enjoy the river in our terms, it’s the same when they crowd us and spook the fish. They can go anywhere; we can’t pass behind or go around standing there. Don’t come close and think it’s being friendly to start a conversation and ask “how’s the fishing?” Yes you can yell, splash and cause commotion in the name of having fun. We all get it. Yes there are fishermen that also canoe and kayak. Share etiquette with others and tell them to enjoy themselves but respect our fun which, as we all know, requires a degree of peace and quiet with some stealth. We should be looking for rises, not oncoming canoes, kayakers and tubers. Most rivers are large enough that you can do your recreation over there and let me do my thing over here.

Ron Urban
Port Ewen, NY