the wonderful opportunity to participate in my first Wisconsin
tournament of the year, as I headed up to Montello, Wisconsin to
stick some pre-spawn bass in Buffalo Lake. From the beginning, I
decided that the most important thing I could do was to be
comfortable out on the water. I got ready early that morning,
including wearing a comfortable old pair of Skechers shoes that I
just can't get rid of, and getting my new layered jacket (new for
this season) out of the closet and putting it to good use. I also
got comfortable by wearing a pair of my Diamond Cut jeans - nothing
is more comfortable for a guy to wear out on a boat, nothing.
Once the tournament started, though,
something happened that made me feel very uncomfortable. It was
actually very disturbing and put a terrible damper on the day for
many anglers fishing the Buffalo Lake system.
I am fishing in a B.A.S.S.
Federation circuit this year, in my home state
of Wisconsin (The Belle City Bass Anglers of Racine, WI). This
opening weekend for the club's events found us holding our
tournament on the same body of water as two other club events on the
same day. As a result of this (and the club president's decision to
make sure we got parking stalls at the launch ramp), we decided to
start our event an hour early to avoid the rush and get a jump on
the bass out there. We ran our boat out to an area underneath a
bridge where a majority of the "local" shore anglers hang out.
Well, about an hour (of
comfortable fishing) later, the other two club
tournaments began, and one team came shooting down at full throttle
towards the "no wake" section underneath the bridge. A gentleman
from one of the other boats anchored in the vicinity yelled out to
the guys, "Slow down, this is a no wake area." In no way was the
yelling individual being rude or cocky - he was just informing the
boater of his disobedience of the law.
The speeding boater, following the
"confrontation," stopped his boat,
drove back underneath the bridge, and started yelling every four
letter word back at the other guy in the boat. He then threatened to
"take him on" right there and start a fight. Now, keep in mind, this
was all done right in front of about a half-dozen shore anglers.
Following a few exchanged words
between the boaters and the shore
anglers, the disobedient angler spun his boat around again and went
full throttle underneath the bridge disturbing all of the fish,
splashing water up onto the shoreline locals, and creating a huge
wake that only disrupted the fishing for everybody involved.
We are living in a society where bass fishing is a growing sport,
unfortunately with growth comes opposition. For starters, the vast
majority of local anglers do not appreciate having fishing clubs
come and take up their fishing territory and launch ramps. It is
unfortunate, but it is a major concern as the number of clubs grow
year after year. For that reason alone it is very important that we
all take every step we can to make sure that the land owners and
local anglers who occupy the lakes we fish know that we appreciate
Obviously, a guy like the one we
encountered in this event does nothing
but get the locals in an uproar about those "bass guys," and
unfortunately labels us all as being bad to the business. We need to
do what we can to provide the best impression while on the water.
There are many ways that even the
weekend angler can help to promote good ethics while out on the
water. I urge you all to do what you can to uplift these 5 major
guidelines, and keep us all on the good side of the public. First of
all, be obedient to the rules and regulations posted on the lake.
Obey the no-wake zones and speed limit rules. Secondly, avoid
throwing litter into the waterways or onto shoreline property. I
always keep a small plastic bag inside of my boat or bag every time
I am out on the water to use exclusively for my trash (this includes
food wrappers, as well as old plastic baits and line). Third, do
your best not to whip your baits and hooks against people's boats or
piers. In the event that you do accidentally snag a hook on private
property (and you are able to do so), do what you can to remove the
lure or rig from the property - and not just cut the line and leave
it for trash.
The fourth guideline, that some
might see as a bit crude, is not to
"relieve yourself" on a landowners property. Nothing turns a
landowner off more than having to clean up after a messy dog in
their yard - let alone a messy bass angler! Try to find access to a
proper rest room, use a plastic bottle, or just hold it!
Finally, no matter what happens,
THINK BEFORE YOU ACT! If something happens that gets you really
upset, take a 15 second breath before deciding to do something
stupid or offensive to other anglers or landowners. Remember, we are
all in this boat together (figuratively speaking). If we want to see
the sport of bass fishing continue to grow with little or no
opposition, we need to be responsible, ethical, and focused on our
fishing and not our ego.
Well, to sum up the day, it wound up being a beautiful Spring day,
the club brought many fish into the scales at the end of the
afternoon. As always, my favorite pre-spawn metal-lipped crankbait
(a Lucky Strike Rattlin' Wiggler) hooked me my fish. There is
nothing better than those metal lips during the bright days of
spring, as they just draw in the sun's reflection (as well as the
bass). We released all of the fish, unharmed. All that I can hope
for is that the innocent and ethical anglers who come back to
Buffalo Lake will be allowed to fish "unharmed" after the stupid
antics of one disrespectful tournament angler.