There are, no doubt, countless lists about how one should conduct himself while enjoying the sport of fly fishing. I am quite sure that they are all encompassing and some would even claim to be the final authority as to what to do and what not to do along the stream.
Well not exactly...
You will have to suffer through yet one more - Namely Mine!
So here goes and you are welcome to agree or disagree with my wit and wisdom.
Let's dispense with the obvious because I am sure you all are aware that littering, vandalism and other such vile acts are definite Don'ts. If you are not aware of those absolutes then I am truly amazed that you are able to make use of a computer much less knowing how to communicate abstract thoughts on that computer.
Don't enter a stretch of river and immediately start fishing directly below another angler. This is impolite and if you are found doing this during the fall salmon season then you might likely wind up in the river or having that 13 foot spey shoved in an uncomfortable location where a visit to a proctologist might be necessary.
Whenever I am limited to fishing in close quarters with other anglers I either leave and find some less crowded waters or I ask permission to fish in the same area.
I have yet to be turned down when I use this approach.
Do carry a plastic bag to pick up garbage along the stream bank. This is especially important when fishing, with permission of course, along private land. Nothing impresses a land owner more than an angler cleaning up trash.
Don't have a picture taken of you and your fish with your fly rod in your mouth. Nothing looks stupider than some guy posing for his hero shot with a rod clenched in his teeth. If you must have an ego shot taken then leave the damn fish in the water at all costs! I saw a picture on Ifish.net of some attention seeking moron with a wild Deschutes river spring chinook hauled out of the water and up to the road where his camera was...what a clown!
Do avoid completely all spawning fish and their redds. Be watchful where you wade and never ever cast your fly towards active spawning fish.
Again the enticement of visible fish in the water might be too much for the weak minded to resist but hey we are fly anglers and should know better or at least I hope we should.
Do become involved in conservation at some level. Hey If you can take the time to read the drivel I write on this blog then you can take the time to write your state fish and wildlife department to voice your concerns. They do read this stuff and they do pay attention to what you have to say.
If you can be involved beyond letter writing then so much the better. There will always be plenty of those who like to make like they care but in truth it's little more than lip service. There are a lot of folks who get little if any attention with their conservation efforts and that is the way they like it.
Don't make money off of wild fish and natural resources then give little back! This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I'm not saying it's wrong to make a buck or two off of wild fish and natural resources but it reprehensible to never go beyond that. This goes for anyone from guides to internet website owners who have huge followings. If you think I'm talking about you then I probably am.
Finally by all means Do enjoy what a river and a day outdoors have to offer. Certainly there are fewer and fewer fish available to catch but take the time to consider your surrounding out on the river.
Isn't it a great thing to be alive and along a beautiful stretch of water with your fly rod? Yes catching a few fish is nice to but is it absolutely necessary to salve your ego by catching a fish?
Our rivers out here are sparkling diamonds...every one of them! They may have become tarnished over the years by miuse but they are still a resource of immense enjoyment that you and I are able to utilize. I intend to take that attitude in the coming year. We have suffered some severe setbacks this past year when it comes to protecting wild fish but it's the beauty of where we are and where we live that makes us, or at lest me, fight so hard for it in the first place.
Enjoy that beauty and keep ever mindful of those that fought for your right to be there...it makes a difference when you approach it that way.