In the past few months, I have been increasingly aware of the growth of our sport and the potential conflicts that we face when we hit a certain threshold. As we become a larger percentage of the overall fishing population, we will encounter each other and boaters at ramps more often, we will paddle up a creek wide enough for two kayaks and encounter three other kayaks and that’s not counting sharing the water with recreational kayakers.
The tendency for most people covering a particular topic is to cover all possible angles in order to extend the narrative and to give them more to write about. I don’t think that this is necessary in this case. The basic concept here is to keep it simple and we can all avoid conflict and spend more time fishing than we do bickering or getting stressed out doing what we should be doing to relax.
Recently, I have literally experienced five or six instances of what can only be described as ramp rage. In all of these cases, the anglers in the wrong were actually from our own community. They were kayak anglers. The scene in each case was almost identical. Two or three kayak anglers backed down the boat ramp, unloaded their kayaks right into the middle of the ramp and then began to make repeated trips back and forth to the vehicle to retrieve their PFD, Paddle, tackle, rigging items and other gear. From there, they drove their vehicle back up to the parking area leaving their gear in the middle of the ramp blocking access for other departing and arriving anglers attempting to use the ramp. In the case where one of these anglers were actually called out by the other anglers, they acted as though they hadn’t done anything wrong and the other person was being ridiculous.
Blocking the ramp is never acceptable. Stage your gear beforehand and make your loading, unloading and rigging as expeditious as possible. Pull your kayak to the side when parking or retrieving your vehicle. Gear up and Gear down in a staging area or in the parking lot rather than doing it on the ramp and we will all share the resource as it was intended. If you observe other kayak anglers not exercising good judgement in this scenario, here is a suggestion for a resolution that usually works very well for me. Walk up to the angler or group of anglers and offer up,”Hey, let me help you move your kayaks off the ramp and then I will watch your gear while you go park!” This, or some variation usually works wonders for avoiding conflict and the angler or angler’s involved generally get the drift of what you were doing and won’t be comfortable doing it in the future.
I could also write a novel on the expectations and what it acceptable once you get out on the water. Respecting someone’s “line” or “drift”, staying out of someone’s way unless they offer to share the spot, maintaining at least two generous casting distances, avoid cutting someone off without first having a civil discussion about how to work an area together. Courtesy goes a long way. If you are fishing a tournament, always have a backup area in case another tournament angler has the same idea and gets to a spot first or a recreational angler encroaches on your spot or beats you to it on tournament day. Basically, show the respect to another angler that you would want if you were in their position and you will most likely both find success and avoid conflict.
Check out my new video for more on this topic, be courteous to others on the water and most importantly – HAVE FUN. The rest will usually work itself out.