We are only a few weeks away from the date of this year’s stream trout season in southeastern Minnesota. Fishing supplies have been organized and reorganized, fly boxes have been restocked, stream maps have been studied and you have started checking the weather forecasts daily for the opener. When you arrive at your “perfect” stream for opener day you are likely to discover that your selection is shared by many other anglers. Let’s face it, fishing opener is when we should expect to encounter crowds. Everyone is looking forward to that first fishing trip and hoping to catch a few fish.
How we behave while fishing, especially when the streams and rivers are crowded with anglers, impacts other people trying to enjoy a fishing adventure. Our behavior influences future fishing access privileges and the environment along our streams. Practicing good streamside etiquette enhances the enjoyment of a day on the water for other anglers and for ourselves. Be courteous and respect the environment is the foundation for practicing good streamside behavior.
Here are some thoughts that we should be mindful of when encountering other anglers along a stream. Don’t crowd into an area where another angler is already fishing. Avoid any action that might spook a fish where someone is fishing. Walk away from the stream and around an area already being used by an angler. Leave room for an angler to move up or down stream to the next undisturbed site along the stream. If you are fishing with friends keep the noise level down. Practice the “Golden Rule.”
Angler behavior is especially important when fishing streams accessed over private property. Ask for permission, yield to livestock, leave gates and fences as you found them and don’t block field entrances. Consider letting landowners know when you are leaving their property and be sure to thank them.
From the standpoint of the environment do not litter. To paraphrase some old sayings; “Take nothing but pictures — maybe a few fish, but leave nothing but footprints.” or “If you brought it in be sure to take it out.” Many anglers don’t hesitate to pick up and take out clean trash that was discarded by someone else. In smaller steams, you might consider limiting the amount of wading to avoid damaging fragile trout habitat. Finally, if you are going to release a fish — handle it with care to increase its chances of surviving.
The solitude and beauty of your fishing adventure is often challenged on the busy opener day. Take a little time to visit with a few of your fellow anglers, you might learn something that will improve your fishing experience.
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” Zane Grey