What is ethics? The short Wiki answer is “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior”. Fishing ethics is basically a standard set of rules or do’s and dont’s that most of us already live by. We all benefit from the privilege of being able to fish and we should’t take it for granted. It basically boils down to respecting your environment and respect for others. Lets call it: a bro code to fish by
If a couple of guys get into a vehicle together to drive to a fishing destination you become a team whether you like it or not. No fishing secrets should be held between you. You share spots, bait and presentations. If a particular bait is working for you on the day, you tell your team mates and you even share your bait with them. Be a nice guy!
Never ever take a dump in the footpath! Nothing steals the piece from my heart easier than when I step into a turd. Take five steps left, dig a hole, delete some files and fill it up again. How difficult can it be? Really guys, how many times do you go to a fishing spot and then you have to deal with the stench of some one elses frustrations lying all over. Believe me I know, if the brown bear is on his way, nothing can stop him, but try and keep it civilised.
Don’t litter either! Every weekend I see sardine boxes, plastic bags, beer bottles and pieces of discarded fishing line being left on beaches. Is it really that difficult to just pick up your own filth and throw it away at the parking lot bin, or to take it home if there isn’t a bin? I have even started to pick up other peoples trash before I leave my fishing spot. I would be ashamed if someone had to pick up anything behind me. Don’t throw your empty bottles in the water either, they break and can cause nasty injuries to fellow fishermen and to children playing in the swallow waters or on beaches. Don’t be a box!
Never leave hooks with old pieces of bait on the beach. Seagulls will eat them and die. Don’t even leave loaded hooks dangling on your rod. I have caught a cat like that and its a bad experience for the cat, you and your gear. Clean hooks properly and discard in a dust bin if not used again.
Don’t use galvanized hooks. If you loose a fish, they will take much longer to rust out than normal hooks. Replace treble hooks with singles, especially if you are going to release your fish. Trebles can really hurt fish.
When in a group, always help to collect bait. Even if you can’t throw a cast net, play ground crew and collect water for the mullets. Offer to pump some prawn even though your a mud pumper. Never start fishing before every one haven’t finished collecting bait. The guy bending his back the hardest pumping prawns and throwing livies should get first choice when it comes to picking the best fishing spot.
Collect only the bait that’s needed and don’t try and pump all the prawns in one particular spot. Move around and pump a little bit here and there. Believe me 50 prawns is plenty, you don’t need more. The same applies for collecting white mussel and other baits. Don’t use mussel worms. You literally have to destroy a whole mussel bed ecosystem to gather a few mussel worms. If a fishing day draws to a close, return the left over bait safely to their environment or offer them to fellow anglers. Don’t waste bait.
Never take anything from your fishing buddy’s bait box or fishing bag without asking. No one just goes diving into someone else bag and help themselves, its unacceptable. A mans fishing bag is more sacred than a women’s handbag with a dildo in. Always ask if you can “borrow” sinkers, hooks, or bait and offer to return the borrowed equipment after usage. If you are being asked, always give, never borrow. Your not getting that piece of tjokka back anyways that I can guarantee you.
Offer fuel money when catching a lift or going out on someones boat, even when invited. You always offer to contribute towards fuel and other expenses. Don’t just assume because someone has a boat that he is loaded and he doesn’t need the money. It’s all about principal. If someone doesn’t need it they will let you know, but at least offer to contribute. The fastest that you will not get invited again is if you are a little stingy mother fluffer. If you are the one driving, don’t try and make a profit, be fair.
Don’t eat in front of hungry children. Always offer food and drink to your fellow fishermen. You don’t have to give everything away, but at least offer a sip or a bite. If your afraid that you might die of hunger, pack some extra snack bars, just in case.
Don’t borrow fishing equipment. Murphy is a vindictive little shite! You might have a brilliant track record and have never lost or broken anything fishy, until the day you dare to use your buddy’s fishing rod. If you have to use someones equipment, do so only in emergency situations and only if being persistently offered by a very well known friend. After usage make sure you return the equipment in a better condition than you received it. Properly clean it and even service it, if need be.
Don’t drink & fish. GUILTY! I speak from experience. If you want to, and the law of the land allows it, have a beer by all means. But, don’t get wasted! Its when you drink and fish that hooks end up in fingers and boats tend to get capsized. Or four by fours get stuck in the sea… Alcohol + Fishing = Chaos!
A smile costs nothing. Always be friendly. Say hello to fellow fishermen and make some chit chat chatter. If some random guy says hello, greet him with a smile and offer him a sip of your coffee!
If someone is at a spot first, the spot is his! Yes, the sea belongs to everyone, but sometimes a fishing hole can only handle one or two lines at a time. I promise you, if you have enough decency to ask if you can join someone at a particular spot, the answer will almost always be YES. But don’t just assume it will be ok to join just because there seems to be enough space. When fishing next to someone and they get stuck into a big fish, take your line out of the water and ask if you can assist with the landing of the fish. Its the right thing to do!
When fishing lines get tangled while a fish is being fought, remember it is always the line with a fish on that has right of way. If you can’t untangle the lines quickly enough, cut the line with the fish free. Just make sure you cut the right line…
Don’t think its ok if you can’t stand at a particular spot that you can throw your way onto the spot either. Never throw over a fellow anglers line and if you do, take your line out and cast again.
Offer to take photos when someone has caught a fish. Make sure you take a proper photo as well and don’t cut of the tail, or head of either the fish or the angler.
When your buddy’s rod gets an inquiry, leave it alone. The one and only reason you should touch a fellow anglers rod is if it is being dragged halfway towards the water. Only then will it be appropriate to pick up the rod and shout for your mate to come and handle his fish.
If you are lucky enough to be fishing from a boat don’t drive over a bank anglers line. Remember a bank angler only have one or two spots available, you have the whole ocean. Don’t be a p bomb!
Catch & Release. C&R will probably make a whole chapter in a book on fishing ethics. The fact is, if you catch a fish, it is your fish and you can make with it what you want. But shouldn’t we consider only keeping one or maybe two for the pan. We should at least stick to the allowed bag limits. Also consider releasing the smaller fish as well as the bigger breeding stock. Personally I love to eat fish and I do keep the odd fish and there is nothing wrong with it. But don’t keep everything. One fish released is potentially 10, 20 or 30 fights for future generations.
Learn to handle a fish properly. Wet your hands before you pick up a fish and don’t stick your fingers in their gills. Take a few quick pics and release the fish ASAP. If handling bigger fish always provide some support in the middle of their body when posing.
Always help fellow anglers in any way possible. Just a bit of advice or a word of encouragement can go a long way. Remember, not long ago, you were the laaitie that wished you can also one day catch a big one!
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