Saturday, August 25, 2018
Conflict exists in so many areas of our lives that many of us retreat to lakes and rivers for a few hours of peace away from the turmoil.
Sometimes, however, even the water can be a place where friction between folks can create stress and strain.
Anglers get angry when others encroach on their fishing spots. Fishers fret when boaters and skiers buzz too closely, and many dock owners don’t much like when anglers skip lures around their boats.
If only we all could get along and play well together.
Whenever two people are in the same vicinity, it is possible they might disagree. It’s not a new thing, of course. Emotions have boiled over since ancient times. Even the earliest people from time to time had to defend their fishing holes against hungry invaders.
Here’s a basic fact: Anglers fish where they fish because they believe fish swim in that spot. Boat docks are among their options and, indeed, a number of fish species really like living around boat docks.
Bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, are particularly fond of hanging around boat docks. Among the best docks are those with big platforms that create a lot of overhead cover and shade, thick supporting posts of wood or aluminum, boat lifts and, naturally, big boats.
With all that attractive cover, the bass move in and enjoy the shady coolness and feast on perch, crawfish, bluegills and other foods.
It doesn’t take long for a bass-laden boat dock to attract anglers. And that, unfortunately, can lead to conflict.
Dock owners understandably want to enjoy all the benefits they deserve thanks to the fact they bought, built and maintain their dock. Anglers understandably want to fish in the water near and immediately under the fish-laden boat docks.
Dock owners sometimes get ticked off when anglers fish close to their docks. They have good reasons. Some anglers snag their lures on the docks, boats and accessories. Some anglers fish close to docks with people out on them.
I recently spent three days fishing at Chautauqua Lake in western New York. It’s lined with hundreds of boat docks, and bass anglers like myself have learned that Chautauqua’s docks are likely to yield some dandy bass.
My catch during my recent visit to Chautauqua included a number of 3-pound largemouth bass, a few 4-pounders and, to my delight, a bass that weighed more than 5 pounds. During my fishing trip, I fished a whole bunch of good boat docks and encountered no friction from the people who own and maintain them.
Whether at Lake Milton, Chautauqua or wherever, anglers are well-advised to be respectful of people’s boat docks.
If families are out and about, it is wise to move on to another dock. I also recommend extra care and accuracy in casting, and if you happen to snag a lure, make every effort to retrieve it so nobody gets hurt.
If all anglers are considerate and leave no trace that we have fished their docks, the people who own them will have fewer reasons to shoo us away. We will be able to escape from our day-to-day conflicts and fish in peace where a 5-pound largemouth might live.