Saturday, February 14, 2015

Etiquette on the River

shadows of two men fly fishing at sunset with pink clouds over the darkened rim of hills.
Fly fishing for Steelhead at dusk.
A friend of mine and I were just getting ready to fish a popular riffle on the Deschutes River. The conditions were perfect--no wind, good water and a run all to ourselves. As we started to put on our waders, a lone fisherman walked right past us without saying a word and headed for our water. We were dumbfounded and I said, “Hey, buddy. What do you think you are you doing? This is our water.” He looked at us with a smirk and said, “Ya snooze, ya lose!" Well, that created a quick confrontation, and a heated argument commenced that ended up with a variety of expletives. The guy paused for a moment and then he left in a huff realizing that the odds were against him. Later, a couple of his buddies approached us. They politely apologized for his actions and said they had set him straight regarding courtesy on the river.

There are ways to approach a fellow fly fisher without getting into an argument. If you see one or two people fishing a run, a good approach would be ask them if you could fish behind them. Some fly fishers will even invite you to fish with them or follow them down the run.

Unfortunately, other fly fishers will try to monopolize a hole for the entire day. When you politely ask them if you can fish behind them, they will adamantly refuse and rudely make derogatory comments. Rather than argue or get into a fight, I have used the following way to make them feel uncomfortable. Without saying a word I will sit down on the river bank and start watching them. I will also begin taking photos and jotting down idle notes hoping that they will become self conscious. If they are not catching fish, they eventually get tired of being scrutinized and often leave the water to me. As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier that the sword.”

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