Fishing is one of the most rewarding sports in the country, but anglers need to understand that their actions can have a major impact on the water, the surrounding area, and the fishery. By maintaining responsible fishing and boating techniques, you not only keep the sport strong, you protect the quality and availability of fish for future generations.
So how can you be a responsible angler your entire life? It’s actually quite simple and convenient, and most of it comes down to common sense.
Respect Private Docks and Shoreline Property: The docks, beaches, and shoreline areas are often owned by your fellow anglers and boaters. You have a right to fish near the shores and around the docks, but do everything you can to respect their property. Don’t leave lures and line snagged on docks, and don’t damage shorelines in any way.
Don’t Fish near Swimming and Beach Areas: You should also avoid fishing near public and private swimming and beach areas, as you don’t want to leave sharp lures where kids will be playing.
Handle Fish with Care and Release Quickly: If you’re playing catch-and-release, you need to handle the fish delicately and release them as soon as possible. Don’t keep them out of the water for too long, and make sure to hold them horizontally when taking a picture. Avoid dropping them on the deck and get them back to their watery home so they can be enjoyed by other anglers.
Respect All Wildlife: When you’re on the lake, you’re not just near fish. There are also mammals, birds, crustaceans, and many other wildlife around. While it’s tempting to get in close and view the animals, give wildlife plenty of distance and avoid disturbing their activities.
Pick Up Your Trash!: It’s sad that we have to say it. If you’re an angler, you obviously enjoy being outside, cruising the water, and experiencing nature on some level, so it makes no sense to let your trash fly around or drop into the water. Then again, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not the angler who needs this lesson, which leads us to our next point...
Make Cleaning Part of Your Fishing Routine: Unfortunately, you really can’t do a lot to convince other people to clean their trash, but you can make an effort to pick up after them. If you see a piece of garbage in the water or on the shore, pick it up and throw it away when you return. You shouldn’t have to do it, but you’ll feel proud that you did your part to protect the water, the fish, and the wildlife.
Know the Fishing Regulations: Conservation officials set specific bag limits and size regulations based on meticulous research. Before you hit the water, make sure you know exactly what size of fish you can keep and how many you can bring home. You’ll also need to know if there are any regulation banning certain techniques, such as trolling restrictions or multiple lines.
Drain and Clean Your Boat After Every Trip: Traveling to different waters is a great way to enjoy fishing, but it can lead to unintended consequences: invasive species. Remove any vegetation that’s hanging on your boat, and get rid of mud and drain your bilge, live well, and any other area that may be holding water. You should also consider drying and disinfecting to make sure your boat is ready for a new lake.