A Little Respect – Please!

June marks the beginning of the busiest season on the Texas coast and I want to talk a bit about on-the-water etiquette.

I see boating and fishing etiquette discussed on internet fishing sites. The discussion usually begins with a rant from some guy relating a tale of an inconsiderate boat operator "burning" his fishing spot, running through his drift or cutting off his wade.

I believe the anonymity of cyber-space, much the way people used to act up on their CB radios, encourages bravado. The strongest rants include descriptions or even photos of offending watercraft along with latent terroristic desire to discharge flare guns or "chunk Super Spooks" at offenders. Nice!

A notable recent account related the unsavory details of cranking up and running circles around waders that began fishing where other boats were drifting. I bet that little tirade solved a lot of problems.

Time on the water is precious and nobody wants their opportunity to enjoy a fun and productive outing interrupted or diminished in any way by the inconsiderate actions of others.

Now this is not to say that every time another boat comes too close or cuts your wade or drift the other guy was dead wrong or inconsiderate. We have a ton of new fishermen joining our ranks every season and some just don't yet have a clue. So before losing your temper, pretend that guy is your friend and guilty only of an honest mistake. Simply pick up and move to another spot if you feel that one is ruined. A few kind words will go a lot farther and may be exactly what the doctor ordered if indeed they are newbies. Fist shaking and other rude gestures have no place in fishing.

Whether you know it or not, there's a fight brewing. There is currently an organized effort underway to petition TPWD and lawmakers to regulate how we can use coastal waters by restricting boating and fishing activities in certain areas. LIFA is the acronym for Low Impact Fishing Area see also No Motor Zone. Basically, fishermen who do not use shallow draft boats to access their wade and drift waters are tired of being run over on the flats. I am by no means a LIFA supporter but I too hate being burned and I doubt you'd dig it if it happened to you.

Go around! Give the other guy a wide berth, as wide as you would like to be given. Try not to crowd. If the other guy gets there first, keep a polite distance or find another spot. Setting up to fish in a channel or slough that is the only access to other water is a bad idea unless you don't mind boat traffic in your fishing hole. If you see a paddler or poler working a shoreline, get off of it, he was there first. And kayakers, please do not paddle three abreast down the middle of a channel, stay single file and hug the bank.

If we cannot find better ways to use the water and respect our fellow users, we will invite more regulations than we probably want to live with.