Mind Your Manners: etiquette on the trout stream By: David Bergman

Mind Your Manners: etiquette on the trout stream By: David Bergman

The time has come for seasonal trout fisherman to travel far and wide from their tying desks and offices for a much needed day on the water. A magical time for many trout fisherman where the streams are loaded and everyone must catch and release their treasures so that others can enjoy the fight again. Delayed harvest streams, are a great place to hone in on ones trout fishing skills and have the opportunity to hook multiple fish in a day. Some angler’s never even venture to the wild trout streams during this time, they are perfectly content fishing the delayed harvest water all the way until June, and why not, the water is teaming with bountiful large trout that have been fattened up and ready for action.

Fishing the delayed harvest water can be a blast, we take folks fishing there too. Of course, me and everyone else has to remember that we are not the only ones who want to enjoy the stream. Many anglers will be on the trout stream this time of year. Young guns, to old trout bums will all have to share the river and expect to see one another. This is a plethora of different personalities sharing the same stream at one time, there can be quite a bit of misunderstandings and little mistakes that one can do to upset someone or even ruin there fishing day and most of the time its unintentional. That is why we are going to tell you how to “mind your manners” on the delayed harvest stream this season, so everyone gets a fun rewarding experience.

So picture this, you are in one of your favorite holes, the water is clear, the birds are chirping and your head is filled with the white noise of the surroundings set before you. From behind, you hear something, a man and his grandson pointing at the spot you are in and talking. They stand there for the next ten minuets and now you are not thinking about the fish, you are thinking about them.

Do not crowd someone’s space. You and everyone else are there for the same connection with nature. These streams are typically loaded with fish. Be respectful and fish somewhere else then check back on your “honey hole” later. There is no need to start a queue of people for one spot. Fishing somewhere else is good anyway. You will learn even more and discover new holes you didn’t know existed.

Now let’s go back to the same hole, the grandfather and his son left to fish somewhere else and you are back to the blissful setting you were relaxing in before. That is shortly interrupted again but this time it’s a young woman, she seems as though she hasn’t fished here before and she’s just wading up stream looking for a good place to get the line wet. She looks at you and says excuse me! Then walks right in front of you, right on the edge of the hole scattering the little school of brookies that you were stalking. She passes then you decide it’s not worth waiting for the fish to return, so you move on.

What she should have done was walked behind you and stayed as far away as possible. Always make sure you are giving people a nice wide birth when passing them. There is nothing worse than other anglers scaring your fish away or just simply getting right in your space. If you are wading up stream and see someone, simply get out of the river, walk around them, then get back in once you are significantly past them.


Now you moved up stream and are fishing in a nice wavy run. You are all settled in and let out that sigh of relief. Five minuets later you here something behind you again, “Any luck!” a young college age man cries to you. You politely but as quietly as you can say “not yet.” As you expect the young man to move on he shouts again “ we got thirty fish already!, you got to use the zebra midge!” then you reply with an annoyed “ok thanks” and once again instead of leaving he continues with a “im tellin you man we caught so many fish with zebra midges!” then he finally keeps heading down the trail next to the stream.

Do not give unsolicited advice. A lot of anglers are there to figure things out themselves. That’s one of the reasons we all love fly fishing. Trying different flies and figuring out what works is incredibly satisfying when it all comes together. The puzzle of fly fishing is what keeps it exciting. When you give advice that wasn’t asked for it can make someone feel like they are being put down, and of course it’s a bit pretentious. Now I am not saying you should never give advice. If someone is asking you for advice, then by all means help each other out. That fosters a good fly fishing community, but remember, these conversations are best left for the parking area or on the trail next to the stream. They should not be a shout back and forth on the water. The other piece of this situation that should be avoided is talking about how many fish you caught. If someone asks me how I did, My favorite reply to always have loaded up for the famous question is “not bad” short and simple, no matter what the outcomes were that day. Keep the mystery alive and don’t give people expectations or make them feel bad. Save the bragging for the beer you have with your good friends later.


Now the young man has left and you have caught a few fish. You are feeling pretty darn good, until you get a rumbly in your tumbly. Nature is calling you in a different way now. You got to use the facilities.

There is no shame in doing your business, we just need to make sure we are doing it in a way that does not impact our trout fishing environment. This is a subject some people get uncomfortable talking about, but that is silly. We all do it and if we are going to peruse outdoor activities, we need to know how to do it right. If you need to urinate while one the stream, exit the water and try to go at least two hundred feet away from the stream where no one has a direct view of you and your bodily chemicals can’t enter the water. If you have to defecate, move two hundred feet from the stream and find a private spot. Dig a six by six inch hole, do your business then burry it well with the toilet paper, there’s nothing worse than seeing brown daisy’s on the stream bank. For this it is good to keep a small pocket trowel and a few sheets of TP with you. Let’s remember to keep the stream beautiful.

If there is one thing you can take away from this, it is to be respectful to your fellow angler. We all have a common goal, and we all use trout fishing to escape the toils of our day to day. If you would like to see examples of how to behave on the river, and if you want to excel your fly fishing skill, come on a trip with us. Remember, don’t crowd, be patient, give people their space, don’t give unsolicited advice, keep the river clean, and Mind Your Manners!


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