Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 26th, 1999

By Request

One of our sponsors, Doug Cummings of Royal Wulff mentioned he reads FAOL regularly, and asked if I were going to do anything on ethics. I explained there are some articles on ethics in Fly Fishing 101, three in the LadyFisher series, more in Castwell's column as well as in the European Angling. The jest of Doug's comments was suggesting we do more.

Part of the problem here on FAOL is we have a good section for beginners - but as I mentioned previously no one wants to be considered a beginner, so a lot of really good information is missed by those who haven't read Fly Fishing 101.

If we title something 'Advanced' everyone reads it! There has been an advanced column the past 3 weeks, (including one this week on a specialized fishing technique) and they have been very well read. Just proves the point. Human nature.

As far as ethics and fly fishing are concerned, I don't think you have to go further than the 'Golden Rule.' Have the same consideration for others as you would like to have extended to you.

We've all run into the 'Dork's Are Us' people who don't have a clue, either no one has explained the facts of common courtesy, which make life more pleasant for all of us, or they choose to ignore the rules. In today's politically correct society it seems common courtesy isn't politically correct. You of course, can try and educate, but sometimes the best solution is to either wait until the dork moves on, or move on yourself.

There is something which seems to be forgotten. If you are a guest on someones land, they have allowed you to fish what is not 'public' water, a 'Thank You' note is certainly required. A phone call saying 'thanks' is a poor second, but is better than nothing. That small little act of courtesy may get you invited back. Or not.

When JC and I lived in Montana, we fished, and hunted. We always asked permission in advance, told them when we would be there, left our phone number, description of the vehicle (along with the license number on it.)

We were always invited back. A little thing you can do that is really appreciated is a small box of candy, cheese tray, some little thing that lets the landowner know you appreciate the privilege. And it is a privilege! Since we hunted we almost always had home-made jerky, usually elk. A small container, like a peanut-butter-sized jar of jerky was very welcome. JC nicknamed the jerky 'PR Jerky.'

Sometimes we do take for granted the little things others do for us. But those who host you for a fishing trip, or go out of their way to get you onto special water do deserve more than a quick 'thanks' when you leave.

Sharing the ride? Share the cost! If your travel partner won't take gas money, buy lunch. Or dinner. There is no free ride - or at least shouldn't be. Pick up the slack and do your part. (If you tie, a gift of a little batch of your partners or hosts favorite flies is a nice thing too.)

There are some 10.9 million people in the US who have fly fished at least once in the last 12 months. And another 18.3 million who want to learn, (according to a recent AFFTA survey.) That is more people on every piece of water.

Without common courtesy at least, we are all doomed. With a little thoughtful consideration, we can all enjoy that which is so necessary to our piece of mind. We can share the water - but we all have to be aware it is not there JUST for us. ~ LadyFisher

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