Fishing ethics and proper fishing etiquette are core responsibilities of all anglers. Fundamentally, these ethics and etiquette can be distilled down to the “golden rule”- that is, treat others the way you want to be treated. Be respectful of others and be responsible for the area you’re fishing.
Some of these practices may not be as obvious as others. Read on for a list of best practices for the ethical angler.
- Treating fish and our natural resources with respect is essential to the fishing community. Be mindful of sensitive habitat, taking care not to disrupt the environment around you.
- All anglers should review rules and regulations before heading out for the day. Regulations are in place for a reason, so respect and follow the laws on the water you’re fishing.
- Keep only as many fish as legally allowed and that will be eaten. Also, when you plan to keep fish, dispatch of them humanely and care for them immediately by cleaning them or putting them on ice so their eating quality is preserved.
- Only use baitfish species or other baits that are either permitted by regulation or are from the water you’re fishing. Do not use exotic species such as goldfish, and be mindful that any foreign bait may disrupt the ecosystem.
- In many cases, spawning fish are the future of fishing. If you catch a spawning fish, handle it with care. Be mindful of the season and avoid sensitive areas that are known for spawning if possible.
- Be sure you have the permission of landowners if you plan to fish on private property. If you don’t, you’re trespassing.
- On a public waterway, there is no such thing as somebody’s personal spot. Fishing areas are enjoyed on a first-come, first-served basis. While it might be frustrating to find someone fishing water you’ve been fishing for days, months or years, they have as much right to that spot as you do.
- Keep noise to a minimum. Most fish species spook easily. Quietly approaching an area where others are fishing is not only courteous but will assure fish are not spooked and can still be caught. An important part of any quality fishing experience is the tranquility found outdoors.
- Give anglers around you a wide berth and make every effort to avoid crowding to assure a positive fishing experience for all. In some cases, crowding can’t be avoided. Under those circumstances, taking care not to cast over other’s lines and to provide as much space as possible for those around you will be greatly appreciated.
Remember, fishing ethics are not in place to restrict you, but to help build a positive angling community.