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Water Rage!! – What we anglers can do

Water Rage!! – What we anglers can do Water Rage!! – What we anglers can do
By Duane Richards

Ever been on a lake or river and have some inconsiderate fisherman/boater ruin your fishing area? I’ll bet money, it’s happened to you. Were going to give an example or two here, and finalize with what we as fishermen can do to protect ourselves on the water, and make these careless people think twice before ruining someone’s fishing or boating day.

From crowded streets, to crowded waters, we begun with what someone dictated as “Road Rage”. I see this as nothing more an excuse for behaving badly. Our media has blown this perception into a disease handed down from motorist to motorist. Driving like a maniac on the highways just has to be something, or someone else’s fault other than our very own. Hogwash! I say.

I’ve fished lakes, streams, rivers and such, my entire life. We began as a fairly courteous people on the water, but as time has passed, things have changed drastically. Boaters use to slow for each other, give a wide berth, and throw up a hand as if to say: “hello! Glad to see you out here enjoying the water just like we are”. Boy, has that attitude sunk!

Now what we have is nothing more than “Water Rage”. Can I be first in calling it that? Is it a disease looked over and blamed upon by us humans for our actions? Kin to “Road Rage”? I feel no different for one, over the other, each is just as bad, and highly inconsiderate to our piers.

Several weeks ago, I marked some Striped Bass holding off a rolling flat about 200 yards long. After I marked them, I went above the mass and began working my way down through the area I had marked fish on. Two casts later, along comes a bass boat WIDE open, he slows down when he seen me, comes right in on TOP of me, cuts me off and starts fishing my marked water not 30 yards from my boat. Entire lake WIDE OPEN...he comes in and cuts me off.

The very next day, I decided to try trolling through the falling leaves-which is a feat in itself- and go down the lake and away from all the other boats. I trolled down an "S" like curve by myself, and around the last point where I could see a straightaway of about 3/4's of a mile long. There was a boat coming up the straightaway far off in the distance at what looked like full speed. Soon he was getting closer, and closer and closer...then he turned and headed right at me!

I was thinking about what I was going to only choice that I could see (this all happened in a few seconds) was to turn left, crank it wide open and run into the bank that was only 25 ft to my left. This dummy had the whole 1/4-mile wide lake, completely wide open with not a boat in sight, and he was coming at me.

About the time I decided to try and get out of the way, he backed down completely on the throttle and came off plane about 30 ft in front of me. He swung around me with the force still left from his 50mph run, jerked around me like one of those early morning late for work drivers-you know the ones- then threw down the trolling motor like he owned the place and I was on his pond.

20 minutes later while trolling the same straight stretch at the other end, I was REAL close to the bank on my right, fishing the deeper water it held. I might have been 20 yards from the right bank; the left bank was 1/4 mile+ away from me. All of a sudden I hear something and look to my right and here's some yahoo in a Bass boat wide open and he had to be doing 60mph!!! He went by so fast I almost didn’t know what happened. This jerk had come between the bank and me, when he had plenty of open water on his, and my left. He seen me before he got to me...there's no way he could’ve missed me. I was the only other thing on the water... and it’s a long straight stretch in which he came at me from behind (my engine noise drowned his out until he was right beside me, so I didn't see or hear him coming at all).

These incidents were just plain on purpose harassment-no question in my mind. There's no other reason for it! What have we became as a society that treats one another in these manners, while doing what we enjoy doing for our supposed relaxation?? We’re not headed to a hectic work world here; we are supposed to be out enjoying ourselves.

We deal with a lot of trying things in life; fishing shouldn’t be one of them! Therefore, I plan to change some of the attitudes on my local waters. How?? According to Captain Michael Ashworth of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Virginia, this is how we as anglers can stop these water rages in the proper way:

“Unfortunately these situations do occasionally occur even though they shouldn't. We are very interested in following up on incidents of reckless boat operation such as the ones you described. Realistically, with such a large area to cover often there is not a game warden on site. If you would in the future attempt to get the boat number, boat description and operator description. Contact a game warden with the information.

Usually, it is quicker if you call the local Sheriff's Department and the dispatcher will contact a game warden. In these cases where the violation did not occur in the officer's presence it would be necessary for you to testify in court about the offense. The officer will take the information, get warrant(s) for the violator and subpoena you to testify”.

So fellers, we have a choice. We cannot allow these types of actions to continue. Most of us carry a camera onboard our boats for fishing pictures. I believe this would also be a wonderful testament to producing factual information on water rage. A camcorder would be even better. If a camera were not “handy”, carrying a simple pencil and jotting down the information requested would surely be feasible.

Lets look at this from the rager’s side of things. What would you do if you got a call from the Game Warden or Sheriffs office concerning your actions on the water?? Even if no prosecution was in place. I can tell you one thing: When operating my boat, and before I got close to another boat in an aggressive manor, I’d think TWICE about doing so again, wouldn’t you??

Ohio DNR has provided a wonderful web site to assist those in making the right boating decisions, The site can be found here: and will be more than worth the read even for the seasoned boater.

Its way past time we change our ways while on the water. Treat as you wish to be treated, abide by the rules of safe boating, turn over problem children to the authorities and make our waters safe again for everyone to enjoy. This means YOU, and we need YOUR help to make it happen.

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Jeffrey Alan Boop | Posted: July 8, 2004

Mr. Richard's look at water rage is interesting... Sad but true. Many of us have witnessed such behavior amungst other boaters/ sporetsmen (possibly we've even been guilty of it ourselfs from time to time(?) Speaking up to the authorities as soon as possible is probably the best, if not the only way, to handle such situations without causing other troubles. Fortunate enough for me-- I grew up on "private water". So, if there is anyone else on the lake, you know they are your neighbor. Which brought a bit more reality, so to speak, about curteous boating operation(s). You realized that if you upset anyone-- They knew just where to find you when the day is up! This helped to control our "private" waters... Now we've just got to figure out how to control other boater's behavior in the public sector(s). Maybe just a course in "Happy Boater's Operations" to be held yearly. (It's a nice place to start, anyway!)

Fletch | Posted: July 1, 2004

Great article. I've experienced some of the same type of things. It's time to take action and nip it in the bud.