Fly Fishing Etiquette.
What is the correct course of action?
Recently I was fly fishing a public stream in Arizona high country with a friend. We had parked at one point on this stream, arriving late around twelve lunchtime. Lucky for us no one else was parked or fishing. Setting off we fished a good stretch of this stream, fishing, leapfrogging each other on different runs and pools. On occasion, we would get separated or even go back over a pool that we thought might still have fish in if we fished a different setup. Great, pleasant day, enjoying each other’s company and the beautiful country we were fishing in.
Around four in the afternoon I started to move up from the run that I was fishing, my friend was still on a pool below me when I saw another fly fisherman had just moved onto the next pool above me. Not overthinking about it I started to walk past him making sure I was away from the stream, I did not want to spook fish for him. I also noticed there was another fisherman above him.
Turns out there were three of them as I learned later on in our conversation. In my mind, I was going to move up three or four runs above them to give them some clear water. It never came to that.
I hope this gentleman reads this post and contact me as the more I thought about it later, the more irritated I found myself getting.
He called over to me not in the friendliest way (he might be a nice guy, he might have grown up on this stream, he might be the best fly-fishing man on this earth, he might be an expert). He was an older gentleman, like me. The word being gentleman?
However, he asked me where I had parked, I told him, he asked me what time I started fishing, I told him. He told me that I was fishing to fast and that he would take much longer just to fish a quarter mile. He asked how many fish had I caught, I said plenty.
Then he told me he was fishing with some friends who did not get out very often and he would like to fish the stream above us with them on the water that had not been beaten up. He was not that polite to me, slightly confrontational. Would I fish back down as there was not much water left above where he was starting out. Truth be told I really did not mind going back downstream to fish as I have often gone over streams that I have previously fished and done well.
The point on reflection is this, he jumped immediately on the pool up from me, leaving me no distance between our groups, I had been fishing all afternoon and did not see them until that moment, so I had no idea of their situation, yet I was the one that was supposed to change my day. Admittedly this is a small creek, but there are options. He could have turned around on seeing us and gone back to where we had parked and fished back up, however, he would say we had disturbed the water, even though hours had passed at that point. Of course, he could not know that!! He could also have parked where we parked and gone downstream as there are miles down that way as well. Again he would not know when and if it had been fished recently. But that is the point, we are out there who knows what happened on that creek before we all got there.
Who cares, that is the rub on fishing public waters. It is open to all, including all the cattle that on that day were also wading across at different points and time of the day when we were there! Still caught fish!!
I have fished many times following different groups that hit the water first. Still landed fish.
There is always a choice open to you to make other plans for your day, given circumstances that appear that you did not foresee. In this case, we walked back down to where we had parked then moved further down and started fishing back up. Caught a few fish and missed one big brown that snapped my friend line off.
So why write about this? I guess as I get older, I would like to impart a few words of wisdom and share my experiences. It would have been so much better for both of us if he had approached me with a smile and come over and talk about our day and plans rather than give me an inquisition. I was also at this point not that friendly, does nobody any good and leaves a bad taste on an otherwise beautiful day.
You catch more fish with honey than vinegar!! Life is short, be pleasant!