It seems like simple respect, common courtesy and consideration for others is getting lost. In the past when I’ve broached this subject I have mostly focused on basic rules and responsibilities. My thinking was that most violators were simply ignorant or uneducated. I’m sure that is still the case for some but I fear this has changed in recent years.
There are some elements of our society where individuals are totally focused on themselves without regard to what others think or how their personal behavior affects others. I had hoped that fly fishing was somewhat immune from this attitude but after reading all of the posts and responses I can see that there are some who do not care how their actions impact or affect others.
In my effort to elicit responses I shared my latest peeve which is loud music being played from drift boats. Until this past summer I had never experienced this. In and of themselves, drift boats have an impact, especially on wading anglers no matter what they do.
On the Facebook post I didn’t expect so much focus on the loud music issue. My thought was that others would share examples or experiences of a variety of issues relating to basic etiquette on trout streams. There were a number of important concerns including trash on the river, crowding, uncontrolled pets, boats cutting other boats off, and blocking boat ramps. As expected there were a lot of comments about guides and guiding. I plan to address this in another blog at a later date. Out of 118 total comments over half were focused on the issue of playing loud music.
According to my rough tally about 5 to 1 were not in favor of loud music on a trout stream. I was surprised by some of the comments. For example, “It’s fishing, get over it!” Others were not so abrupt. “If loud music on the river is the worst thing that ever happens to you, then you should die happy. Is that really the issue of the day?” Another respondent said, “Who cares if the music is loud… let em float by.”
The point I hope to make isn’t about playing loud music on the river. In fact I could care less if you want to play music as long as I don’t have to listen to it when you float past, music that is loud enough that I start to hear it when you’re still several hundred yards up the river.
A couple of posts stated that there should be a class or a brochure with rules of etiquette as a requirement for anyone using the river. In my mind we don’t need another layer of bureaucracy. This problem has moved from not knowing how to behave on the river to not caring. You can’t teach attitude.
Today there are those who flat don’t care about anybody else or how their behavior affects anybody else. Examples include the guy who blows up the South Fork in his 22 foot Duckworth with 300 hp throwing a wake without regard to the impact it has on drift boats or wade fishing. The guy who races around on his jet ski without a thought about his behavior. The guy blocks the boat ramp while he gets everything ready uncaring about others who are waiting to put in or take out. The guy who floats through wading anglers with absolutely no concern. Are these examples really any different from the guy who doesn’t care if people don’t want to hear his loud obnoxious music? “It’s fishing, get over it! If this is the worst thing that happens you’ll die happy.”
“The sport of angling used to be a genteel business, at least in the world of ideals, a world of ladies and gentlemen. These have been replaced by a new set of paradigms; the bum, the addict, and the maniac. I’m afraid that this says much about the times we live in The fisherman now is one who defies society, who rips lips, who drains the pool, who takes no prisoners, who is not to be confused with the sissy with the creel and the bamboo rod. Granted, he releases that which he catches, but in some cases he strips the quarry of its perilous soul before tossing it back in the water. “– Thomas McGuane
The question that should be asked is why do you fish? I think for most of us fishing encompasses much more than just catching fish. For me fly fishing is peace. One definition of peace according to the dictionary is: “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.” Synonyms: tranquility, calm, restfulness, peace and quiet, peacefulness, quiet quietness, privacy, solitude.
Most of us in my generation have a framed copy on our wall of one of the best pieces ever written about why we fish. It was written by John Voelker under the pen name Robert Traver. A former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice, he was best known for his book Anatomy of a Murder.
Testament of a Fisherman
I fish because I love to;
Because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly;
Because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape;
Because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion;
Because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience;
Because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters;
Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness;
Because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there;
Because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid;
And, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant – and not nearly so much fun.
There were some comments on my Facebook post that were not about behavior. For example some said there are too many crowds. Sadly another said if you’re not a resident, stay out of Idaho. Crowds are here to stay. There are some who want people regulated but they want everybody else regulated except them. We have to learn to accept the fact that there will be more people on our trout streams. With this in mind we must make more of an effort to be considerate, courteous and respectful of others. There is no place for the “me above all else” attitude.
“For whatever reason men fish, they are rewarded simply by the things they see. All the mechanisms of life are visible to those who look for them. From the nature of the very smallest creatures to the natures of men. A man’s behavior on the stream is likely to tell much about the kind of man he is.”-Steve Raymond