Welcome Beginners

Part Four

Through The Eyes of a Beginner

By Don McPherson

This is part 4 of a new series, written by a beginning fly angler about his experiences and adventures in the world of fly fishing. It is a documentary - intended to encourage other beginners. It may also revive a few memories from old fly anglers.

A Little Respect

What is it about people that cause them to be rude? Is it some genetic defect or possibly the way they where raised? Whatever it is, I wish there where a cure for it!

Today I was enjoying a quiet afternoon of fishing at my favorite spring creek. The weather was wonderful and I had actually caught a fish (no small feat in my eyes). I was fishing a familiar stretch of water, one that is often overlooked by others for reasons I'm unaware of.

I stopped to check my fly, I noticed a man and his young son walking towards me. I didn't pay much attention to them since I thought they would continue past and find a spot farther downstream. I stopped changing flies and watched as the man and his son approached. I was amazed that the father was allowing his son to throw rocks in the stream, especially since they were only 30 yards from me.

Not wanting a confrontation, I didn't say anything but just watched. Now you must remember that this is a large creek and there were very few other anglers about. While his son continued to throw rocks, the father decided that 10 yards upstream of me would be the perfect place to fish. I couldn't believe this! I was standing in the middle of his backcast.

I got out of the water and asked the man if it was necessary for him to fish so close, since we were on such a large stream. He said that he was going to fish wherever he wanted and that I could just leave if I didn't like it. I tried to explain to him that I just wanted to fish this spot and I had been here for several hours. The man just became more angry and said, "You arrogant fly fishermen, you think all the rivers are here just for you, and you're not going to share them with anyone else."

I couldn't believe this since the man was holding a fly rod in his hand also!

I asked him if this was his first time fly fishing and found out it was. I explained to him that I was new to this sport also, but that it was somewhat rude of him to fish so closely. By now, I think all logic had left the man because he ranted and raved and stormed out of the water. As the man walked off with his young son in tow, I was left to ponder why people act like that and how to deal with them.

As fly-fishing becomes increasingly popular, we are bound to encounter individuals who either don't understand what they are doing wrong or don't care. I certainly don't know all the rules of etiquette that are associated with fly fishing, but I do know that when I am unsure of something it is often wise to error on the side of caution. There are times when common sense should lead the way.

We all should know not to fish too close to other anglers. How close you fish should be decided by how many anglers are in a certain area, size of the area you are fishing, etc. There are times when it may be acceptable to fish close to someone and there are some rivers where overcrowding makes it impossible to give your fellow anglers a comfortable space between you and them.

Fishing too closely is not the only problem I have encountered. Careless wading has also caused some tensions between my fellow angler and me. We should all try and be cautious about areas where we wade, especially if we are insight of other anglers. We should try to make stream crossings as far from other anglers as possible.

But we must also keep safety in mind and realize that there are times when the safest path across a river may be closer to us than we like. If you want to move to another fishing spot, it is best if you can get out of the stream quietly and walk along the bank to your new spot. By doing this, you won't disturb other anglers and be less likely to scare fish away. Moving around a lot while in the river is sure to scare fish and anger others who may be fishing around you.

There are several things I learned from this one experience. Often times we cannot convince others that their actions are irrational. I don't know what causes people to act that way. I think the most important thing we need to remember is to use common sense.

People choose to fly fish for a variety of reasons. I do so because I enjoy the solitude. This is not to say that I don't enjoy fishing with friends, but when I do fish with another angler, we are often quiet and doing our own thing. We don't try and hold lengthy discussions on the water; we are there to fish. We save things like that for before or after we enter the water. It is very important that we respect one another while on the water.

Your type of fishing may be different from mine, but that does not make either of us wrong. But we must remember that often times our action streamside has a long-term effect on others. An argument may cause a beginner to abandon the sport. But letting someone continue with unacceptable behavior would also have serious consequences.

These days there are a large number of people and organizations that would like to see an end to recreations such as ours. We must keep in mind that our actions often times reflect our sport as a whole. I'm not saying we should all become radical fish kissing environmentalists, we just need to be aware that people are looking for ammunition to use against us. Besides, what is wrong with showing each other a little more respect and courtesy?

I think we, as beginners, must be more aware of our actions than others. Too often we may do something that we think is alright or have done while fishing with other types of equipment only to find out that our actions may be unacceptable to others around us.

I have found that when I am fishing an area with other anglers, I like to step back and watch the other anglers. This gives me a chance to see how they are fishing, where they are fishing, and maybe learn something from them. This gives me a chance to see where the other anglers may plan on fishing and what areas they are working.

I like to give others plenty of room. I think most others appreciate it when we give them space. When I approach another angler on the stream, I tell them where I plan on fishing and ask if that's alright with them. Since they were first to the spot, I want to give them an opportunity to let me know where they plan on fishing. By stopping and letting others know of my plans, often times the other anglers have told me if they've fished that area recently or just given me a little bit of information on the area. It just lets others know that I'm in the area and that I don't want to get in their way.

I guess the main point here is to just treat each other with a little respect. One of the joys of fly-fishing is the way it allows us to get away from it all. We can get absorbed in the day, in our casting, and in our surroundings. It lets you forget about the troubles of life. Life is complex enough already, we needn't add more problems by being rude on the water.

Well, these are just my opinions. I hope you have enjoyed them and maybe learned a thing or two. Until next time, tight lines.
~ Don McPherson

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

Previous Beginners Journal

Return to the Beginners Journal
Part 1 Reflection | Part 2 Sorting the Equipment
Part 3 The New Fly Rod | Part 4 A Little Respect
Part 5 Snapping 'em off! | Part 6 Get a Few Lessons!
Part 7 Stuff | Part 8 Tube It?
Part 9 Take a Little Time

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