I understand that many of today's anglers have come to the sport on their own as adults & weren't as luck as some of us who had an older mentor guide us in the sport - including the proper etiquette of angling. In other words, some anglers haven't had role models (or authority figures if you're a kid) to show them what is considered good stream manners. In fact, very few angling books even discuss the issue at all, so it's no surprise when we sometimes see an angler unknowingly commit a faux pas along the stream - especially the more popular (& more crowded) streams.
Of course, the first rule of good stream manners is to use your common sense & follow the 'Golden Rule' of doing unto others as you'd want them to do unto you. Now I don't want to sound arrogant here or come off like I'm preaching to you. The vast majority of us anglers are very courteous to others. But for those us us who are new to the sport & weren't lucky enough to have anybody show them the ropes, this might be somewhat informative. That said, here's a few pointers for good stream manners:
- Pick up any litter you see along the stream. Litter seems to attract more litter & when folks see you picking it up, they'll be inclined to not only not litter but pick up the litter they see, too. This also shows respect to the land owner. We anglers loose access to more water because land owners get tired of damage & litter on their properties. Remember, we're guests on their property.
- Don't crowd other anglers. Let them fish the entire pool or run if they got there first. If there's plenty of room, ask them if you can slip in before you do. If the water's already crowded don't make matters worse by trying to squeeze in. If the entire stream is crowded, pass the time by taking photos, collecting bugs, studying the plants & wildlife. Sooner or later a spot will open up for you.
- If you're in a good spot of water & other anglers are waiting to fish, invite them in to share the water with you.
- When you pass other anglers on foot who are fishing, circle out as widely & as quietly as needed to not disturb them. If you come upon a steep bank with anglers fishing below stay back from the edge. Don't EVER cast your shadow over another angler's fish.
- Don't do anything unnecessary to disturb the water, even if you're the only one around. Why put down all the fish when another angler might come along shortly after you. Also, don't wade the water if you don't have to. There's no need for it. You might also want to consider leaving the dog at home - unless it's well behaved & won't bother others. It might be your best friend, but some anglers might not appreciate it swimming or barking.
Again, I don't want to sound "preachy" here. I don't mean this to be a lecture. Most of us are the most considerate & pleasant folks you'd ever want to meet. But it only takes one to upset things along a busy stream. If no one ever told them what good stream manners are, how are they supposed to know? So the next time someone does something offensive to you along the stream, try to be patient & understanding with them. Kindly & gently explain why what they did was offensive & remember, they might not know what they did.