Anglers who move quietly and slowly when wading will catch more and not spook fish others might be chasing.

Fishing etiquette

It’s been a few years since I wrote about fishing etiquette in this publication, but with an increasing amount of frustration on and around the water from the selfish actions of others, I thought it was time for a refresher and update on this topic.

I understand many readers will be doing the right thing – however a few reminders can’t hurt, and some may be just blissfully unaware of their impact on others.

Therefore, this month I want to outline some basic principles I apply or appreciate being applied by others when I am fishing.

Sadly, I see many people breach these – either out of ignorance or lack of courtesy.

As recreational anglers, we have enough pressure from activists and politicians doing deals with minorities to shut us out of more fishing areas.

As a group of anglers, we must support each other and adopt a common courtesy for all fellow fishos.

A good place to start is by following good fishing etiquette, as described below.

Jetties can be busy places – respect how others are fishing around you, such as drifting floats or bait, and don’t get tangled among them.

At the boat ramp

Pre-prepare your boat

Before you line up ready to back your boat down the ramp, prepare your boat out of the way of others trying to reverse down or retrieve. This includes putting gear on board and tie downs removed – don’t remove your safety chain though – so all you need to do is unclip the latch hook and safety chain and slide the boat off once you have reversed down the ramp.

When you have, quickly secure your boat or have a friend move it or hold it out of the way of others and remove your boat and trailer as soon as possible.
Don’t stand around having a chat or load more gear in once your boat is on the water.

At night

If pulling your trailer or boat out of a ramp at night and there is someone else trying to reverse down, turn your lights off or at least have only your parkers on.


Help others at the ramp. If you see others struggling at the ramp, don’t stand and laugh at them – or worse, abuse them – help them out.


Once you have pulled your trailer out of the water, make sure you have courtesy when parking your boat and trailer. This means parking between the lines, so you don’t take up more than one parking space.

And don’t park too far forward or back in the car park, where your car or trailer can obscure others trying to get past or reverse out. I see this lack of courtesy far too regularly at my local ramp.

Speed limits

Finally, when making your way out of the ramp in a marina or six-knot zone, follow it all the way through the marked channels until the speed limit changes.
Driving a jet ski does not entitle you to breach these rules or sneak outside the designated channel and speed off above six knots, leaving others to battle your wake or it wash into the marina.

Fishing is as much about the serenity as it is about catching fish. In quiet locations, don’t roar past or disturb others with loud music or conversations.

Respect and care for your boat passengers

As a skipper your passengers are your responsibility. Sadly, we had another avoidable death on Moreton Bay recently.

These days – with the exception of the cheap and nasty old school square monstrosities – inflatable life jackets are light and easy to wear the whole time you are fishing.

I now have a rule that anyone who comes onto my boat in open or semi-open water must put on our life jacket before the motor is started.

You get so used to them – I often forget I’m still wearing one when I go to collect my car and trailer at the end of the session.

I also talk all new passengers through how to start the motor, what the kill switch does, which I wear, and what to do if we go in the water – showing the floating grab bag of gear and life ropes to secure themselves to, and how to work the emergency position indicating radio beacon.


About Sean Thompson

Sean caught the fishing bug bad one very cold Canberra day 20 years ago when he was bored and picked up and read Angler's Almanac by the fireplace. Since then he has filled his mind with knowledge from fishing magazines, books, the internet, TAFE fishing courses, guiding fishing charters (estuaries, beach, bay and mountain lakes) and of course 'on water' experience. He and a group of mates formed a social fishing club and soon started to share what they learnt and caught online. Sean is the admin for Ontour Fishing Australia on Facebook, which is a page that shares information, reports and sponsor giveaways and welcomes all to the site. He plans to move into blogging on his new website when time allows.

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