When fish run strong, tempers rise

spectr17

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When fish run strong, tempers rise

01/20/02

Bill Monroe/Oregonian

An elbow nudges a neighbor.

Words are exchanged -- deeply bitter and hateful words, spoken as if between mortal enemies -- by people who have only known each other since the first syllable. There's a push, maybe a punch.

Another hockey game? Basketball? The Russian parliament?

C'mon, not steelhead fishing!?

In an outdoor sport once as popular for its meditative quality as its elusive silver reward, a growing number of anglers without manners are taking a toll on tranquillity.

They're stinkin' up the mystique.

It has been disheartening this season to hear basically the same scenario described from many of Oregon's popular rivers.

Anglers race for a spot on the bank or row quickly downriver in the morning to be the first to anchor in a hole, often oblivious to someone already fishing there.

A fish caught is a spot lost. Someone else moves in as the prize is momentarily dragged ashore and handled.

Angry words are spoken between "bankies" and boaters. In at least one rumored case on the coast, blows are exchanged.

"Maybe it's my old age, but I've been fishing in Oregon all my life and I've never seen anything like it," said Wes Porter, 76, a Lincoln City resident who has been yelled at and muscled out of holes on the clogged banks of the Salmon and Siletz rivers. "It's enough to make you want to toss everything in and just quit. Some of my friends have."

The inclination, of course, is to blame the attraction of Oregon's record runs and the new three-steelhead limit. We're not accustomed, after all, to winter steelhead rivers clogged like the opening of trout season.

Or waiting in long lines each morning for the gate to open at the Sandy River's Oxbow Regional Park as anglers warm up on coffee, some of it laced with liquid courage.

"It's been a dozen years since the last time we had problems with anglers and a dozen years since the last strong steelhead run," said Bill Doran, an Oxbow Park Ranger. "We become social workers out here when the fish are in."

Doran said poorly behaving fishermen (few, if any, women act badly) still are a minority, but they are highly visible.

Porter believes abandoned river etiquette has been festering for years.

"I think it's society in general," he said. "People just don't seem to care anymore."

If they cared, anglers would know better than to take someone's place while they're answering the call of nature or distracted. Cigarette breaks or pausing by a fire are a little different, but it's still polite to ask permission to step into a hole.

Even in elbow-to-elbow hot spots, most should know to synchronize their casts.

Where possible, boaters playing through without casting -- fishing etiquette isn't unlike that of golf in its common-sense roots -- should row close to the angler instead of directly over or through the drift being fished.

And respect the fact that a bank angler has very limited access, while your boat will pass through miles of good water. You don't have to stop in a hole already occupied.

These are days we want to fondly remember, not regret. There's room for everyone and plenty of fish to go around.

The older I get, the more respect I try to show to veterans like Wes Porter and his friends. Hopefully, that too will be passed along, although Porter is skeptical.

"I'm at an age, I guess, where they can get away with ignoring me," he said. "If I were 30 years old and 6-foot-5, they sure wouldn't pull this stuff." You can reach Bill Monroe at 503-221-8231 or at bill- monroe@news.oregonian.com
 

Bishop

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Boy, I thought it was just us Californians.  Seem like the last few years all the old stream customs have gone out the door.  Seems like as soon as someone sees you catch a fish they'll come and fish right next to you or cross the stream to fish directly across from you in the same 6' wide creek.  I was always taught that if you came across someone fishing you gave him a wide berth and quietly went down to the next pool.  Now you see 5-6 people tossing everything in their tackle boxes into the same pool. And then jockying for position by wading in or climbing overhanging trees.  
 

spectr17

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The worst encounter I had was at Lake Hemet a few years back. I had a boat and had gotten out right at the crack of dawn to bass fish the coves on the far bank with topwater. After about 1/2 hour I saw this boat heading right for the cove I was in, which would only hold one boat.

I thought to myself, this bozo isn't going to slide around me, it's too narrow, plus I'm casting to the very back of the cove already. 2 adults and a kid pull up and say how they had seen me catching some fish and they then beached their boat right next to me and let their kid out. The kid takes off to run around to where I had been casting. I couldn't believe my eyes. I yelled to kid to get his butt back in the boat and then asked what the heck they were teaching him. They adults started moaning about what a party pooper I was.

I pointed out there were many coves with plenty of bass around the corner they could enjoy without ruining the fishing for someone else. They finally left after a bit.

I was also taught to give another fisherman a wide berth. I've had guys actually walk up to me and throw across my line before while asking how the fishing was. Some even ended up tangling with my line. I keep a pair of cutters handy while fishing and I used to just reach out and cut their line but after a couple testy people I quit doing that. No need to have to iron a suit for court over a fish.
 

hronk

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Spectr:  This should be a hunting post, but get this.  Last Monday afternoon I took my buddies 14 yr old son to deke a lake near here since the wind was blowing hard and the only pressure had been in the mornings.  For an hour +  we had Teal landing in the dekes and feeding.  We were hoping for big Ducks and his 1st Pintail so we let the teal come.  When all of the Teal (maybe 50) busted I stood up and found a guy (School teacher) wading into our dekes.  His explanation was; " if you're not going to shoot them I will."  He was surprised that I was more than a little pissed off when I asked him to leave.....hronk  
 

spectr17

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you got them types up there with you too hronk? Wading into someone's dekes is risky business.

I had a guy blast my dekes one year while I adjusted the jerk string. Lucky for me he was 80 yards away and the pellets just sprinkled the dekes and me.
 

Hogskin

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Jesse,

How many of your pellets hit him after that?  :smile-big-blue:

I used to keep my boat up at Cachuma and I learned how to fish that lake pretty good.  We were fishing a favorite hole one day and an aluminum boat full of idiots was fishing about 75 yards away from us.  They saw us yanking fish in left and right.  They fired up the boat and came charging in, actually rammed my boat, and one of the guys immediately threw the anchor over (and when I say "threw" I mean he didn't lower it into the water, I mean he threw it about 5 feet in the air and it made a splash like a Chevy falling out of the sky).  When he rammed the boat he crushed a hole into the fiberglass of my boat.  I maintained my composure pretty well but my buddy Doug (about 6'6", 285lbs) went nuts.  He jumped into their boat and started throwing their gear into the water.  It was pandemonium.  These guys were so scared I think they considered jumping into the water to get away from Doug.  I kept yelling at him to calm down and get back into my boat which he finally did (but not until he'd darn near emptied the contents of their boat into the lake).  I considered their loss of equipment an equitable payment for damaging my boat so we split and found another spot.  I don't condone what my buddy did, but I just don't understand the rude, thoughtless people in this world.

Regards,
Paul


Regards,
Paul
 
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