On the Fly: Reviving proper fishing etiquette | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly: Reviving proper fishing etiquette

Autumn colors on the lower Roaring Fork below Carbondale.
Chris Kish |

Fly fishing is changing and evolving. As anglers, we also must learn to adapt and do what is right for our fish and fisheries.

This past week I had an interesting conversation with my pal Rich, who just returned from his first trip to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. This massive spring creek like river is on every fly angler’s bucket list. Its hallowed water is famous for its heavy hatches and incredibly picky trout.

Rich was quick to point out that despite the tough fishing and crowds he encountered while there, the fishing etiquette of his fellow anglers was off-the-charts incredible. He regaled us with a short story of how another group of anglers strolled by and casually asked him where he was intending to fish (upstream), got out of the water so as to not spook “his” trout and waded into another section of river well upstream from him.

Being a Roaring Fork Valley local, Rich was used to the hustle and bustle of the Fryingpan River, where in the summertime one might want to literally bring your own rock with you to stand on. He was blown away with the manners and professionalism of the guides, clients and anglers he spoke with.

I explained to Rich that fishing etiquette in our Valley has regressed substantially over the past decade, but that he and I both need to act as stewards of our rivers so that others can have same quality experience that was on display for him along the Henry’s Fork.

With that said, here are a few suggestions.

First and foremost, use the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you encroach upon others unexpectedly, apologize and ask if they mind if you fish near them. It’s their call at that point. More often than not, they’ll be happy to oblige. And if they don’t, so be it. There’s plenty of other trout and locations along the river to fish.

How much distance should there be between anglers is another question I often receive. There’s no one right answer here. It varies from river to river and is also dependent upon the time of year. Use your common sense. If you’re in doubt, get out! Floating anglers should also give wading anglers the right of way.

As we’re now fully underway with fall fishing conditions, spawning brown and brook trout, along with spawning mountain whitefish will be encountered. I’m not sure when it became okay to yank fish off of their shallow spawning beds slinging peg-eggs, but I encourage all anglers to leave these fish alone and let them procreate unmolested. It’s simply not fair.

The latest trend in fly fishing has been using massive, articulated multiple-hook streamers. Though effective at times, these monstrous flies are accounting for more damaged, dead and hook-scarred fish than should be allowed. Smaller, more traditional “trout-sized” streamers are better on our fish and are more than effective. Save those Alaska-sized streamers for Alaska. Remember, even 150 pound tarpon are regularly caught on small size-1 and -2 hooks!

Don’t get greedy this fall. Enjoy our remarkable fishing ethically.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

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