Outdoor Escapes and Etiquette

Notes from the North Woods

Common sense and common courtesy

A few years back, while enjoying a shore lunch along the banks of the Ausable River with an old friend, we watched a group of fellow anglers surround the same small pool we had been fishing earlier in the morning.

The pool had been quite productive and we took several nice fish before moving on. But as the scene unfolded, it became apparent the new group was intent on sticking around for a while.

My old friend, the late Fran Betters, would have described the group as a “New Jersey Firing Squad,” as they surrounded the pool shoulder to shoulder, and began flinging lines all in the same direction.

They kept at it unabated, and while a few fish were actually taken in the opening minutes of the angling assault; they were soon off feed.

“Look at that,” my buddy commented, “You know the problem with fishermen today?” He didn’t wait for my answer, before declaring, “Nobody smokes anymore!”

I looked at him incredulously, and asked, “What the hell does smoking have to do with trout fishing?”

“Well, in my day,” he replied, “We’d fish a pool like that for a while, maybe catch a few fish, and then we’d take a break to have a cigarette, or smoke a pipe.”

He continued, “It gave us a chance to regroup and recoup, but it also rested the pool and allowed the fish to calm down.”

“If other anglers came along, they would have had the courtesy and respect to understand that we were just ‘resting the pool,’ and he’d likely move on.

“Nowadays, it seems that fishing has become an endurance race, rather than the relaxing pursuit it once was.”

We do it in order to escape, to lose ourselves in the moment and to find a bit of our past in the process. Despite the proliferation of multi-million-dollar bass-fishing tournaments, and the growing popularity of catch and release flyfishing contests, such as our own Ausable Two Fly competition, true angling competition should always remain a contest between an angler and his quarry, rather than angler versus angler.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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