It’s courteous to avoid boat rage when fishing for intelligence

2012-07-07 00:00

YOU wouldn’t say that a bunch of burly men hitting the dam with some friends and a few beers on a Sunday afternoon would have a set of rules defining their behaviour. But they do.

Fishing etiquette, long ingrained in the avid angler, consists of a number of moral guidelines that are expected of each and every fisherman. Common courtesy is not only confined to dry land and etiquette extends beyond the confines of the dinner table.

The ethical obligations reiterated by our parents cannot be safely tucked away merely to be taken out, dusted off and used to show off our good breeding at the occasional Sunday lunch. Apparently these need to be on show even when we are enjoying an afternoon spent on a dam covered in blood and dried fish scales.

Fishing etiquette, not unlike dining etiquette, consists of a number of guidelines that range from the obvious to the obscure, some of which seem to have originated for no reason whatsoever.

The rules of fishing etiquette are passed on from experienced mentor to enthusiastic angler as the angler is slowly introduced to the fishing community.

Being surrounded by fresh air and an open skyline does not mean that you won’t be cut off or that your secret fishing spot won’t be encroached on.

Competitive angling often sees many anglers embracing their darker side as they strive for a win rather than striving for a winning disposition.

Undercover intelligence collection is not unheard of and some of the more ingenious competitors have been known to let their inner 007 get the better of them as they try to determine what is working.

There is nothing wrong with practising a dam and collecting information from various sources; in fact the sharing of information can only better the sport, as it raises the overall standard of angling and increases the skills base of competitors.

On the other hand, if the binoculars come out, you have to wonder if the reconnaissance has gone too far. Imitating your favourite spy’s techniques for camouflage may be grounds for being committed to the local asylum, but it can in no way be considered as research.

It is one thing to ask an angler what techniques are working for them, and another to obnoxiously race up to a fellow angler on your American style Evinrude E-Tec using your side-scan fish finder to determine and map the structure that that angler is targeting. This takes some of the enjoyment out of the sport and can leave some anglers wondering whether something fishy is going on.

Martin de Kock, often described as one of the true gentleman of bass fishing, stated that the apparent disregard for etiquette by newcomers to the sport is typically a result of ignorance and should not be taken as a deliberate snub.

Boat rage is not unheard of and those heavily tinted windows of your long-standing road-rage nemesis may not have been left as far behind you as you think. They will merely have been replaced by a pair of reflective polarised sunglasses.

The recent BETT tournament saw two teams — known as much for their prowess in fishing as for their kindness of character — dominate Albert Falls. They generously shared some pointers with us. Giulio Nolli and Preston Dale (Team Goya / IFH Consulting) and Julian van Zuydam and Martin de Kock (Team Yamaha SHO / Rapala) both emphasised a slow and methodical approach to their fishing, stating that they looked for fewer bites of a better quality.

Both teams targeted fish using bigger baits such as jigs and crank baits. These techniques are known to pick up quality bites at this time of year and it is apparent that these two teams allowed their practice and knowledge to culminate in a successful finish.

So next time you’re on the water, remember that fishing isn’t only about remembering to take the right lures; sometimes it’s about taking the right attitude.

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