An excerpt from Ken Penrod’s “Top Ten for Fishing” – this is #10 on his list of “Ten Ways to Make Enemies”, and its easily the most common bad practice I’ve witnessed:
“(10) ‘Have an attitude’ when you are out there fishing, especially if you are in a tournament. If someone’s fishing your hole, ask them to leave. After all, you are trying to win some bucks here, and all they are doing is fishing. Sometimes you have to be rude, but what the heck. Tell them who you are. Maybe they just don’t recognize you. Maybe they don’t have a clue about how important you are. It’s a nice touch to laugh at their boat and equipment. Paint your name on your outboard motor cover. You want them to know who they are messing with.”
I’m seeing and hearing about more and more extremely poor behavior on the water from my fellow tournament anglers. 99% of them are class acts, but people remember the 1%. Behavior matters, not just in the larger tournaments, but the local ones as well. Sponsors don’t want to be associated with poor sportsmanship.
Be polite. Observe the 100 yard rule when pulling in to a spot if someone is already there. Be the first to congratulate the fisherman who finish above you and listen to the stories of the ones who finish lower than you. If someone gives you advice – return the favor and acknowledge their assistance. Work for your “spots” and expect others to do the same. We are all in this together, doesn’t it make sense to make it the best experience possible?
While at Kerr, fishing a particularly “juicy” spot, I had two fully camouflaged turkey hunters come screaming up to me in a Nitro on pad. They just had to know if I had heard any turkeys in the area, and really, the two older gentlemen just wanted to talk a little fishing. Coming into the area I was fishing on idle had already spooked any fish in the area, but would chastising them for doing so had made any difference? Nope. They just wanted to talk, and if they had thought about it and how their approach could have affected my fishing, I’m sure they would have done things a little differently. I can tell you this however: if I had lost my mind and yelled about how they just ruined the area, THEY and my CO ANGLER would have remembered. They would have remembered the sponsors whose logos adorn my boat and sworn not to buy their products because of “that jackass who yelled at me”. The would have talked about me at the post tournament meeting to other anglers. Any time they saw my boat in the future, they would have pointed it out to anyone listening and said “there’s the biggest jerk on the water”. Would you want that kind of press for your company?
As it turns out, I gave them a few minutes of my time, talked a little fishing and turkey hunting, and went back to work. 100 yards down the bank, I caught a rather large fish that unfortunately came off at the boat. Would I have done so if my head was still filled with anger and emotion after confronting the “turkey dudes”? Probably not; so much of fishing is mental, and when fishing tough conditions like the ones at Kerr (the water levels rose 1 foot in the lake during the tournament day), concentration is key to success.
Remember: only YOU can control YOUR attitude and mental focus. Fishing is supposed to be fun, and when you are having fun, you perform better.