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Ethical Fishing/Best Practices

Fishing is one of the most widely enjoyed sports and leisure activities in the world because there are so many different ways and places to fish. Whether you are a casual angler who drops a line from shore or a more enthusiastic angler who goes offshore to chase those big game fish, the sport provides amusement and escape for every one! Fishing, both as a form of pleasure and as a survival, commercial or profitable activity, is one of the world's oldest pursuits.

Fishing ethics and proper etiquette are core responsibilities of all anglers. Fundamentally, these ethics and etiquette can be distilled down to the "golden rule" - that is, treat others the way you want to be treated. Be respectful of others and be responsible for the area you're fishing.

If you're new to the sport, some of these practices may not be as obvious as others. For example, leaving an area better than when you arrived is something to which most anglers ascribe. Read on for more ethical fishing "golden rules."

  • Conservation is a cornerstone of perserving the sport of fishing for future generations. Treating fish and our natural resources with respect is essential to preserving water quality and fish populations. Being mindful of sensitive habitat and taking care not to disrupt that habitat is an essential practice that benefits fish and water quality. Report any environmental damage to the appropriate authorities.
  • Keep only as many fish as legally allowed and that will be eaten. Catch-and-release has become common practice for many fish species that are either slow growing or make poor table fare. Also, when you plan to keep fish, dispatch them humanely and care for them immediately by either cleaning them or putting them on ice so their eating quality is preserved. All foul-hooked fish - fish that are not hooked in the mouth - should be immediately released unless local regulations permit snagging.
  • NEVER use exotic fish species for live bait; in other words, fish species that are different from the native fish and marine species. Worms, crickets, grasshoppers and other terrestrials don't apply here but goldfish and a long list of other exotic species do. The use of goldfish, for example, as bait has ruined thousands of lakes around the world as has other exotic fish species. The rule to follow is, if live bait is allowed, only use fish species or other baits that are either permitted by regulation, or are from the water you're fishing.
  • Spawning fish are the future of fishing and should be handled with care if caught and not disturbed if possible.
  • All anglers should review the relevant fishing regulations before heading out for the day and always have their license with them when fishing. Regulations are in place for a reason, so please respect and carefully follow the laws on the water you're fishing.
  • Be sure you have the permission of landowners if you plan to fish on private property. If you don't, you're trespassing.
  • On a public waterway, there is no such thing as somebody's personal "spot". Fishing areas are enjoyed on a first come, first serve basis. While it might be frustrating that you find someone fishing water you've been fishing for days, months or years, the fact is they have as much right to that spot as you do.
  • Do your best to keep noise to a minimum. Most fish species spook easily. Quietly approaching an area where others are fishing is not only courteous but will assure fish are not spooked and can still be caught. An important part of any quality fishing experience is the tranquility found outdoors. Loud radios, phones, conversation and activities disrupt others and their pursuit of a high quality outdoor experience.
  • Finally, giving anglers around you a wide berth and making every effort to avoid crowding will go a long way to assure a positive fishing experience for all. In some cases, crowding can't be avoided. Under those circumstances, taking care not to cast over other's lines and to provide as much space as possible for those around you will be greatly appreciated.

Fishing is supposed to be fun. Following these simple practices will assure you and everyone you come in contact with while fishing can enjoy their time on the water.



Respecting Resources

Good Anglers Respect and Value Our Water Resources

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Ethical Fishing/Best Practices

The Do's and Don'ts of Responsible Fishing

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Catch & Release

Catch & Release is Good for Fishing and the Environment

Catch and release programs are used around the world and are one way to help with conservation and the sustainability of the world's fish populations.


Regulations & Laws

The Importance of Fishing Regulations

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