Streamside Etiquette

We saw a few more anglers on our local streams this past fall.  Word is getting out on the great fishing we have here.  When you have a world class fishery, which is what we have here on the tributaries to Lake Erie, it will not remain a secret for long--not in this day and age of Internet.  This is especially true when you have 15+ million people within an 8 hour drive of our area.

If everyone follows these simple, common sense rules the overall angling experience will remain positive and our area will continue to be known as a great place for true anglers and sportsmen to fish.


Once you purchase your fishing license, make sure you understand the rules.  


Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when encountering other anglers:
When you are walking down a stream and another person is fishing ahead of you, walk on shore so as to not disturb their fishing area, or walk as far behind them as possible. Take a minute to observe their fishing actions to make sure your route is the best choice. Feel free to ask them if they are moving up or down stream etc.

If on a small or medium stream, where the holes are generally small, if someone is in the hole or run you would like to fish, find another one.  Don't walk up and crowd them.  An alternative is to say hi, and strike up a conversation.  Then you could ask if they wouldn't mind you fishing there.  If they say no, respect their wishes and move on.  If they don't respond, move on.  Some walking will always find new water. 

If you really want to fish a particular run, be the first one there, otherwise respect those who did arrive first.  First come, first served.

On larger streams like the catt , there is more water to fish, and a little walking will go a long way.  Of course this depends on the crowds.  In fact it all depends on the crowds.  If you are on a section of the catt and there are very few people around, don't even consider fishing a hole where someone is already fishing, unless you strike up a conversation and ask them.  Otherwise, move on to the next run.  When there is a lot of open water, there is absolutely no need for crowding.   Nothing is quite as annoying as guys moving in to fish a run you are working, when upstream or down there are no other anglers in sight.

If the river is a bit busy, and other anglers are fishing a run and you are considering fishing the same run, pay attention to how they are fishing.  If they are swinging streamers, they work downstream.  So, don't cut in front of them on the downstream side.  They were there first.  Again, a friendly word and a smile will always be helpful and they may invite you to fish the run from upstream of them.

If the anglers are nymph fishing with indicators, they may work up  or downstream.  Say hi, and ask if they mind if you jump in somewhere to fish, being mindful not to get too close to them. 

I like to stay at least 100-150' from any other anglers on larger streams, unless of course you know them or they have  asked/or said it was ok to fish close by.

If two or more guys are fishing a run, and they appear to be friends and fishing together, don't jump in between them when they are only 50-100' apart, unless of course you ask if they would mind.

Also, don't let your fly or float drift into another anglers water.  By water I mean the water he is currently fishing.  If he is casting 30' upstream and fishing an egg or nymph pattern 30' up and 15' down from him, respect his space.  Don't let your offering drift into that zone.  It's plain rude.   You should not be that close to begin with.

Treat spin and bait fisherman with the same respect you would give another fly fisherman. They have just as much of a right to be on the stream as you do.  Anglers using all methods are entitled to fish our streams, and no one method gives an angler priority or special privilege to fish over anyone else on the stream.

Give the right of way to someone who is fighting a fish. Take your line in so it does not get tangled in theirs. Do not move into their fishing spot when they move up or downstream to fight the fish. Offer to help them net the fish and the favor might really pay off when you hook a huge lunker and need some help.

If someone is using improper stream etiquette it is best to politely explain your views and opinions to them. This will have greater results than harshly complaining or making rude comments. Setting a proper example is probably the most effective way of getting the point across and it can be very contagious. Often times some people just don't know any better, and need to learn, or be reminded of what is acceptable behavior. If a person persists to act disrespectful it is best to just move on to another spot instead of getting to angry and affecting your fun day on the river.

Please respect these fish.  Handle them properly. 
*Do not drag them up on the rocks where they can flop around, which can injure them and also removes their protective coating of slime. 
*Do not use Boga grips, which can damage their jaws and internal organs.
A rubber net is helpful of course.  If you use a net, once netted keep the fish in the water.  If you fish without a net bring the fish into the shallows so that it turns on it's side.  Then you can unhook the fish and take a few quick photos, all the while holding the fish above the water.  A glove helps to hold the tail end of the fish for pictures.
*Don’t squeeze a fish’s stomach.
*Don’t stick your fingers or any object into the fish’s gills.
*If you can’t remove a hook from a fish, cut your tippet and release the fish before the fish becomes overly stressed.
*Quickly photograph a fish and immediately return the fish to water.
*In warmer water conditions try photographing fish in a net that’s held partially in the water.
*Use barbless hooks.

If you see anglers killing fish and disposing of the carcass along the stream after they strip the eggs, call the DEC.  If you see anglers snagging, call the DEC.


Respect the property of others and obey no trespassing signs. Cutting across private land or being careless about where you enter or exit a stream is a sure way to have private property signs pop up all along your favorite stretch of river.  Most places open to the public on our steelhead streams are not PFR (Public fishing Rights) areas per se.  They are privately owned, but not posted.  The landowners don't mind anglers fishing their property.

Unfortunately the DEC is short staffed, and we need to help police our waters.  We truly have a world class fishery that many people are envious of, and we need to protect this fishery so that the experience for all ethical anglers remains positive.

If everyone followed these simple, common sense  rules the overall angling experience will remain positive and our area will continue to be known as a great place for true anglers and sportsmen to fish.

small business home business

Helpful Links