Skip to main content

Public Fishing Stream Etiquette 101 [PICS]

Flickr/Mark Stevens

If you’ve ever fished on a public fishing stream or river, you have invariably encountered “that” guy. Learn some fishing etiquette to avoid being an obnoxious public fisherman.  

Public fishing rights are paramount to most anglers having the best chance to access a stream or river. Without such right of entry, it would be much more difficult for most fishermen to find that fish of a lifetime, especially during the spring and fall runs.

Once we can gain entry to our favorite fishing grounds, it is our responsibility to create an environment of peace and goodwill by the practice of sharing the prize. Good, ethical anglers know that the opportunity is there for everyone to have a chance for success and aren’t shy about being happy for someone else.

1. It’s public.

First come, first served. You don’t own it, I don’t own it; let’s share. That doesn’t mean stomp right up and walk right in. Be a conscientious fisherman and talk to your neighbor. Maybe they were about to move on. And by the way, if they don’t want to say what it is that they’re using, so be it.

2. Upstream or downstream?

Being that fish face into the current, most fishermen will work the water in an upstream pattern (against the current) to avoid spooking shallower, clear water fish. This doesn’t mean that fish can’t be targeted and caught by fishermen facing downstream, but they are much more likely to get busted by a fish that is facing them. Don’t be that guy that walks in the water heading downstream. You’d be noticed less walking into the grocery store naked.

3. Shore fishermen count too.

Just because that guy on the shore doesn’t have those nice waders you’re wearing, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know how to fish. Even better, with a stealthy approach and a conversation with the other angler, you may both be able to fish the spot with equal enthusiasm.

4. That spot is taken.

Give your fellow angler a wide berth. Walking too close to the water can give the impression that you just don’t care; shadows and sound carry over to the stream. It’s great to see the fish that you’re targeting, but there’s nothing worse than seeing it spooked out by a heavy-footed human. Taking the long way around will be appreciated.

Homer News
Homer News

5. Be up-to-date on the regulations.

It goes without saying that it’s our own responsibility to know the local and state-wide angling regulations. Length and daily limit should be well-known to all fishermen and strictly adhered to, but if you are a catch-and-release fisherman and the guy next to you has a legal one on the stringer, congratulate him.

6. Last but not least.

* It’s a public fishing area so share that good spot. One guy can have the “spot” to himself for only so long.

* We’re happy to see another angler have success, but we’d rather not hear about it from a quarter mile away.

* When you’re walking in, behave like that’s you standing in that nice stretch.

* Carry in, carry out. Don’t leave behind one single remnant of your visit except your footprints.

* Be a good teacher for kids and lead by example.

* This is a good time to leave the dog in the kennel.

* If you do encounter a bad experience with someone out there- walk away.

The public fishing stream experience can be a happy and productive one when we all share the responsibility of being courteous. There’s nothing more rewarding than having success and sharing it with others.

Whether you are a catch-and-release angler or enjoy taking home a legal fish or two for the frying pan, you will be happier knowing that you did it in a place that is welcome to the public.

Being a good outdoorsman is about sharing the wealth.

you might also like

Public Fishing Stream Etiquette 101 [PICS]