At face value, fishing seems a fairly innocuous sort of sport, but there’s a dark side to any practice. And occasionally, we all might end up doing some things we shouldn’t. Yeah, we have our motives. We all start out squeaky clean but might drift a bit from complacency, frugality, or simple laziness. We’re all only human, after all. So, presented here, for everyone’s benefit, is a list of the 10 things many anglers do that they should quit doing. If your behavior appears on the list, just remember that the other anglers are more than willing to forgive and forget, so long as you’re willing to make amends.

1. Trespassing

Yes, waterways and bodies of water are within the public domain in America, but the road to get to them might not be. If you have to trespass to get to a creek, river, lake, or pond, go fish somewhere else. You don’t want people wandering around on your property, and neither does the other guy. Besides, who wants to pay an easily avoidable fine.

2. Boating Too Fast

Chances are the fish in the lake have been there for millions of years. If you’re creating a big wake with your boat, you’re probably going too fast to suit the other anglers on the lake. Additionally, higher speeds can result in not seeing other anglers’ gear in the water. Or, failing to see shallow spots or obstructions like rocky outcrops and waterlogged trunks. Remember, fishing is supposed to be relaxing for everyone, so take it easy.

3. Ignoring Catch Limits

Unless you’re nearing starvation, there’s probably not a good reason to sneak home more than your fair share of fish. If you’re allowed five a day of a certain size, stick to it. If everybody starts ignoring the rules, the lake will soon enough be empty. Then you won’t be catching anything.

a bucket of fish

Image credits: Manoj Ayer via Pixabay

4. Fishing Without a License

Yes, it’s a pain in the neck, but if the lake is 10 feet across the state line, you should buy another fishing license. The money generated from fishing licenses is what powers conservation efforts nationwide. Keep in mind that every dollar you spend on licensing improves the fishing, future hatcheries, and infrastructures like boat launches. Now, that’s worth a few extra bucks.

5. Baited Lines

It might be legal to leave a baited line in the water in many places, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. A baited line that is not frequently checked is just as unethical as an animal trap that is left unattended. If you prefer a laid-back method to fish, consider using floating indicators such as a bobber to be notified of fish movement; as an example. But a baited line without checking is inhumane and can do more damage to the immediate environment than just harming a single fish.

6. Ugly Catch and Release

Free Photo of a Yellow Perch on a Person's Fingers Stock Photo

Image credits: Michael Dziekonski via Pexels

Obviously, there’s not much point in throwing back fish that are probably going to die. If you’re going to fish in a catch and release area, you need to learn how to remove a hook properly from a fish. Furthermore, you need to use hooks that cause a minimum of damage. There’s plenty of gear on the market to make the catch and release easier on the fish. As anglers who all share the same waterways, we should all strive to improve water ecosystems as much as possible.

7. Making Too Much Noise

Yeah, we all like music, but we don’t all like the same music. This is the age of earbuds, get some and enjoy what you like in privacy. It will undoubtedly improve your catch. Old-timers aren’t kidding when they say making noise scares fish. A little-known fact is that noise travel five times faster in water. As a result, the intensity of this clamor will send fish into flight mode.

8. Bad Language on the Lake

a fishing guide

Image credits: Barbara Jackson via Pixabay

Yes, it’s a free country, and you can say what you like. Most other anglers would just prefer you said it quietly. Remember that fishing is an activity for the entire family, and there are bound to be some kids within earshot. After all, fishing is a game of patience that should be executed at all times, regardless of if it’s fins or kids.

9. Crowding the Guides

It is a well-known fact that the river belongs to everybody, but some people are trying to make a living from it. Keep in mind that guides are just trying to put food on the table and bring new people into the sport we all enjoy. Cut them some slack, they don’t come to bother you at work. As a rule of thumb, respect your distance, don’t leave waste, watch your casting, and be cautious of your wake if on the water.

10. Overindulging

woman and man holding drinking bottles

Image credits: Rashid Khreiss via Unsplash

Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer. It’s a time-honored tradition, but not necessarily the best idea. Countless, anglers drown every year, and it’s not because they get dragged under by a bass. Overindulging in alcohol is dangerous near water, and it’s illegal to operate a boat over the limit in most jurisdictions. Keep that in mind.

That said, while most anglers are responsible, some are not and leave their beer cans for mother nature to take care of. More so, the plastic rings around a six-pack, also known as a yoke, end up harming wildlife; including fish. Don’t be that person who litters and expects someone else to clean it up for you.

Are You Guilty?

If you find yourself guilty of a few of the accusations listed above, just relax. You’re in good company. From time to time, we all make mistakes, and we all do some things we’re not exactly proud of. Try to improve, and try to set a good example for the other anglers. That’s all any of us can really ask of each other.