Great Outdoors: Fishermen Behaving Badly

Great Outdoors pic1

Special to the Parade

Great Outdoors pic2Could it be that we are living in a time when the pressures of our work environment and life in general are entering our recreational pursuits? Maybe?

Near the end of last year, I experienced two such events in the course of several hours. Two of the people I know and shall remain nameless, the other pair I did not know. The latter had never seen or met the other until the first disparaging words were uttered.

Both incidents were unnerving for all involved and cast a pall on what should have been a fun and enjoyable day on the water. Have Texas coastal waters become too crowded? In comparison to other places, our bays are quite empty.

It’s called “Combat Fishing.” This is a concentration of anglers standing shoulder-to-shoulder vying for the same thing, fish. Combat fishing is found in several locations.

Fishing and boating is where the “golden rule” should always enter the picture. Run your boat and conduct yourself exactly as you would like the guy in the other boat to treat you. Fishing and boating are supposed to be fun.

This might be a good time to mention a few basic rules of sportsmanship and common courtesy.

One of the complaints heard from fishermen is that some are running their boats very close to the bank or shoreline.

The shallow draft boats make it possible, but reason tells us that these are prime fishing areas and running wide open through the shallow water is only spooking fish and spoiling the fishing for others.

Comments recently are, they had been catching fish and a “console cowboy” ran through and spooked their fish. If boats are drifting a flat, either resist the urge to ride the console or find another flat.

Here is one that was suggested by a number of anglers. When in a congested, popular drift area, watch where you run your boat. When going around for another drift make a wide swing around the group.

Each year about this time as the weather gets warmer, finding fish on the flats gets harder and some guides and anglers find themselves dropping the hook on one of the channels, passes, or bridges. The fishing here is normally along the edges of the channels.

During these times, running along the edge of the channel is bad manners. All this will do is spook the fish off the edges. It might be good to mention that tying up to markers or marker buoys is against the law. Give the boats already anchored plenty of space.

If someone gets closer than you think, they should just grin and bear it. Everyone makes a mistake and everyone is guilty of getting too close or not paying attention and running in front of another boat. Life is way too short. Enjoy the day; in many cases the fish didn’t spook too far.

It might be a good idea to check your boat for all the required safety equipment. Check your Texas Parks & Wildlife Boating Regulations for the details.

One final item that I would like to mention, before I jump off my soapbox, is something that has been cleverly disguised as a tackle box. Do not drink alcohol and run a boat. Texas Game Wardens are out looking for the boating boozers.

Treat other boaters and fishermen, as you would like to be treated and enjoy our outdoors.

Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography, visit If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at

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