May 17, 2012, 10:28 AM EDT
I am going to open a can of worms and not because I am going fishing.
Here are a couple different scenarios; what are your thoughts on each:
1. Tarpon School
A few years back I was off the west coast of Florida, shooting a show on tarpon fishing. In this area, small pods of tarpon move down the beach, and to catch them you need to run ahead of the fish and position the boat so the school passes close enough to you for a couple well-placed casts. When done right, the likelihood of a hookup is good, but getting within casting distance of a school is not easy as they are very spooky in shallow water. The sound of an outboard, even from 150 or more yards away, will scare the fish.
On this particular morning, my partner and I located a school of 20-25 tarpon. These were “happy” fish, a term used by the locals to describe tarpon that are acting as they do normally (feeding and frolicking), with no reaction to our presence at all.
My buddy hooked up on his first cast of the day, and we spend the next half hour taping the fight and the release of the fish, before heading down the beach to relocate the school. When we found the school we gave it a wide berth, then set up about 150 yards ahead of it.
As we awaited the school’s arrival, a boat with three anglers came down the beach. They spotted the fish and quickly cut in on it, moving between them and us. The fish spooked, but passed by both them and us, and we each made casts to the fish.
As soon as the fish passed the other boat, it leapfrogged us and set up again on “our” school. Yes, we were upset. Did we have the right to be?
2. Busy Public Water
A couple nights back I caught a few walleyes on a spot close to home. I saved three for lunch (and dinner) yesterday, then made plans to fish there again last night. As evening fell, two boats moved in on the spot, and then others, seeing the concentration of boats, sauntered over. By 8:30 there were 6 boats within casting distance of each other! And then a seventh pulled up and dropped anchor!
This lake is one of the busiest lakes in the country. I doubt more than a few hours a week pass without least one boat fishing, and that includes the middle of the night. But to crowd on such a tiny spot seemed absurd.
Public waters are public and available to all, but at some point anglers have a responsibility to give others the room needed to enjoy their time on the water. Disagree?–Steve
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