Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Golden Rules

Years ago there was an incredibly popular ad campaign started by the athletic shoe giant known as Nike that coined the phrase “Just Do It”. The catchy slogan has become entrenched in our pop culture mindset and in some ways represents the way people nowadays think they should act regardless of how it affects others around them. It’s no secret the population near the Texas coast is growing and the gravitational pull felt farther inland by vacation loving tourists makes the bays and beaches an immensely popular and sometimes crowded place to be. Crowds are not exactly what fishermen want to think about when they head for their favorite destination but it’s a fact of our now everyday life that has to be dealt with and there is zero relief in sight. Fishermen have 2 choices, deal with the intrusion or take up a new a hobby. If you decide to keep fishing you can be a positive influence to other anglers by just following the “Golden Rule” and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Being courteous to others or doing the right thing in most cases takes little to no effort and the rewards in the end are plentiful.

Over the years I have witnessed some incredibly discourteous acts on the water and I’m sure most folks who spend time on the water can relate to all of them. Recently I have noticed more and more personal accounts of rude behavior, discourteousness, and just general lack of manners being shared on various social media outlets. I must admit out of morbid curiosity I have a hard time not reading those threads about bad encounters between boaters, similar to folks in traffic slowing down to gawk at an accident or another motorist receiving a ticket. Easily the most reported or discussed acts of bad manners centers around someone feeling like another fishermen encroached on their space and got too close. When discussing the subject of “what is too close” you can expect a myriad of responses as to exactly how close is too close. Wade fishermen probably are the most interesting examples of this problem because they are on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand waders get their space invaded more frequently simply because they can’t challenge a boat. On the other hand some waders believe they are entitled to an enormous amount of real estate around them and if you get anywhere close to that imaginary barrier you are in the wrong and should be punished accordingly. The easiest way to eliminate any hard feelings is to just communicate, a simple wave or gesture to one another will often result in an understanding as to where everyone will feel comfortable fishing. A simple act of courtesy will go a long way in this situation.

Another highly contested area is the space around a flock of birds working over an active school of fish. It would be so easy to write page after page chronicling some of the insanity that I have seen take place under situations like this. The excitement of the impending good fortune that accompanies finding these fish can go south in the time it takes for another boater to ruin the opportunity by spooking the fish and leaving everyone involved with that feeling of “what could have been”. Generally these encounters end with one boat grumbling to themselves about the lack of respect shown by the offender. Sometimes you can even learn new and exciting words that you may have never heard in that particular context. I have heard some combinations of anger laced with profanity that would make a sailor either blush or roll on the deck with laughter. Perhaps the most extreme instances of confrontation once involved an invitation to settle this dispute on a nearby sandbar and another lead to having a pistol displayed as a deterrent to anymore drama. No fish is worth all that.

One of my own personal favorite practices when approaching another boat working a flock of birds and school of fish is to ask the other boat if they mind if I join in. I have actually done this with clients on my boat, we trolled up to the other boat and I wouldn’t let my folks even cast until we spoke to the other boat.It’s amazing to see the looks on their faces when you show upask something like that. I have never been turned down when I asked politely and more often than not both boats working together will result in more fish being caught all the way around. That simple act of courtesy will more often than not result in the favor being returned when the roles are reversed. I have seen it happen on numerous occasions after giving proper courtesy to another boat that later on in the day that same boat would approach me and do the exact same thing. Courtesy is contagious and it helps everybody.

Now following the Golden Rule is not just for interaction between other fishermen it’s for everything related to your time on the water. Easily one the worst acts of disrespect I have ever seen didn’t even involve interaction between boaters or fishermen, it involved a guide with clients and a flock of seagulls. I was on the south end of Sabine Lake one afternoon with clients chasing the birds and on occasion following schools of shrimp that would come to the surface and show themselves.The boats in the area had plenty of birds to work so nobody ever got crowded as everyone had their own school of fish to chase. During one lull in the action I was close enough to see an angler on another boat snag a seagull during the feeding melee. Anyone who has ever fished under working birds has had this happen to them, it’s a pain when it does but that’s just a fact of life under the circumstances because of the chaos. Now this whole episode is playing out in front my boat so everyone sees what is going on while we are waiting for our school of fish to resurface. The folks on my boat are chuckling because earlier we had the same thing happen, but what happened next caused them all to go silent. The guide on the front of the boat saw the gull wrapped up in the monofilament as it flailed helplessly on the water but instead of taking time to retrieve the bird and free it he cut the clients line, tied on a new lure, and kept chasing the school of fish. I was absolutely blown away at the total disregard for the bird that now was wrapped up to the point where it couldn’t move. I couldn’t stand the sight of what had just happened so I trolled over to the bird, covered it with a towel so I could get it under control, and took the time to free it from the line before releasing it. The entire episode was witnessed by the offending boat and I hope they were ashamed of their actions. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior.

Well I guess I can climb down off my soapbox now and maybe give a little bit of relevant information concerning the fishing. There has been a decent bite starting to show up on the south end of the lake for speckled trout on the incoming tides. Redfish have been a little more predictable along the Louisiana shoreline on the outgoing tides. The brown shrimp and small shad are running for their lives as everything from undersized redfish and birds are taking advantage of the buffet on the bank. Hopefully this pattern will continue to get stronger as we are still dealing with lots of run off from the rivers. As of right now that’s the best game in town and with a little luck it will continue. Please be mindful of all the debris floating around, there are some really bad obstructions out there and they are tough to spot. Keep that PFD handy and slow down.  


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