How Close to Get to Lures

I paddle mostly flatwater, lakes and rivers finding people who fish the bane of my existence. Many times you just don’t see the line or lure until it’s too late. Sometimes due to wind or waves it’s difficult to change direction. I make sure to avoid the lures I can see but it seems like no matter how much I maneuver someone always has a problem with my kayaking and starts yelling nasty things.

For the record I have NEVER gotten stuck on a lure, damaged, destroyed or made someone lose their property. What gives? Are these people either needing antidepressants or if they are taking them have their doses increased? It’s usually overweight individuals with a beer in hand or looking rather bibulous as have had numerous encounters with people who were rather nice about it. Something about overweight drinkers with big puffy cheeks and those veins showing in their faces.

I think you have identified a small example of a larger societal problem: too many people are intolerant and cannot get along.

When I come upon someone fishing from a boat I try to figure out which side of the boat the lines are on and then pass on the other side so as not to spook the fish they are after. Sometimes that is appreciated and a civil exchange of words follows, other times I get the barrage of nastiness. The cure is not in sight.


I don’t know much about fishing and have been told the paddling disturbs the fish but not for long. It’s a fun sport but the complexity has me turned off about actually going out there and buying equipment, not knocking it just saying it’s more than I can chew for me at this time. I already have too many hobbies.

I am never sure about distance. Sometimes I just run over someone’s line because they are in the bushes and not really visible and I apologize, they smile, we exchange pleasantries about how blessed we are to have such amazing hobbies especially in a time like COVID and move on to our merry day.

Other times I maneuver to what I think will avoid stuff and get “barrage of nastiness”. Depending on the waters it’s not always possible to steer and avoid (submerged rocks, boats, waves/wind moving in direction that will tip me if I turn too far left/right).

One time that I never catch crap is from people fishing from paddle-craft like a canoe or kayak. I think if you steer around and don’t get close other people who paddle “get it”. Often I see people start casting in an opposite direction too if they see my approach. That’s always nice.

Maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve never had a problem with fishermen. I always try to give them plenty of room. They usually give my canoe more consideration than people just joyriding in powerboats. Yes sometimes their lines can be hard to see. I pick up lures caught in bushes or on sunken branches and sometimes give them to fishermen if I pass one; it seems to make them happy.

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When you see a boat anchored/moving slowly or people onshore/on a pier, paddle to give them a wide berth. Most fishermen can cast about 50-60 feet with some as much as 100ft sooooo, be considerate of them and give at minimum 100 ft clearance. And, apologize if you run upon them/their lines in the water without having time to take action to avoid.

PS - As a lifetime fisherman and 28 year paddler with first hand knowledge of hooks in ones flesh, fishing hooks hurt. It is best to steer clear if you can.

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I usually do the same by giving them to fishermen I encounter. Though occasionally I will keep one to use myself.

I don’t fish but I paddle rivers on which people fish from boats, shore, or standing in the water. I have not had any unpleasant encounters with fishermen.

I do try to avoid people fishing or running over their lines. However, they often have positioned themselves near one shore casting out toward the opposite shore and there is insufficient room or water depth to pass between them or their boat and the bank they are closest to.

I move out toward the opposite bank to give them as much room as possible, however, sometimes one will cast their line out directly in front of me where I have no choice but to run over their line. This has never resulted in a lure snagging on my boat or person and the angler has never gotten angry when this happens.

I do carry a knife on my PFD for safety reasons and if an angler ever casts their line over my boat, rest assured that line is going to get cut.

Not possible to give them 100 feet of clearance when you are paddling on a river 30 feet wide.

I fly fish from a paddle craft. It amazes me how many canoers and kayaks are so very unaware of what is around them.

They get pissed at me for their not bothering to stay away from me. Then there are those who pull within five feet of me and ask “How ya doing?”

Please respect basic distances. If I have 60 feet of line one a backcast, I can not just drop it because you are unaware of it.

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Ditto that. I flyfish and ww kayak the Androscoggin River in NH. It’s a premier trout/landlocked salmon stream and a fun class 2 for ww boaters. I am amazed at how many boaters will paddle close to me when I am fishing. Hello…?!? I am standing in hip deep water or on a boulder in the river with a rod for a reason. When I am in my playboat, I stay clear of my fishing breathen. Sometimes it may mean missing an eddy but so be it than to risk getting hooked or catching someones line.


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Reminds me of that scene from Nausicaa when the parents take away the Ohm creature from the little girl. Humans and insects don’t belong together even though you think they should…

I have a particular memory of being too close to a pair of lures.
I’m very mindful of not encroaching while paddling by folks fishing. In this instance, I was the one with very little control over the situation.
I had been paddling for some miles in the ocean, and was coming back into a deep water inlet. There was a nice wind and whitecaps, and my way back and in was a nice downwind run. The tidal current was also flooding, so just to sit in place once approaching the inlet would require a strong and deliberate fight against waves, current, and wind. I had been watching the inlet for quite some time paddling back, and all was well and clear, so I’m cruising in.
This is a deep water inlet protected by rock jetties extending out into the ocean for half a mile. On a day like this, you don’t see too many pleasure boats leaving the protection of the inlet. But folks do like to park inside the jetty as close to the open water as possible to enjoy some fishing. It’s also a wide inlet, so plenty of room for boats to be coming and going as they please. This isn’t a narrow channel.
So as I’m doing my best to connect rides on waves, and the current is pulling me in, and the wind is pushing behind me, I notice one of the fishing boats that’s been parked on the right side of the inlet next to the jetty, start up and come motoring across towards the left side where I’m coming in. They continued coming across, seemingly wanting to get a look at me, but did not have an understanding of me and my kayak being in steady motion, even without the motor that was buzzing them across. Their intent was to pass in front of me, which is what they barely did. But I had to brake and start back paddling, and there was not a foot of space left between myself and the back corner of their boat as they crossed.
I felt a moment of relief that I managed not to hit the boat. Then, I saw the fishing lines. They were dragging two lines behind them, and they are on top of the bow of my kayak coming towards me. I start to reach out with an open hand, decide that’s a bad place to get hooked, and put out my forarm and turn my face away as the lines began sliding across my forearm. As luck would have it, when the first lure released from the friction of the water, it took enough of a jump to not hook my arm. The second lure did the same. Seeing these two treble hooks slinging by my arm and face, I must admit, I lost my temper for a moment, and yelled a few unkind mouthfulls their direction. Then I was just grateful that I was sitting upright in my kayak without any torn up flesh.
This was definitely getting too close to lures.

Learn your state’s boating laws. In my home state (CO) the booklet includes how far to stay away from both shoreline fishermen and those in stationary boats.

Boaters—which includes paddlers—are required to stay at least 150 feet away from fishermen. A big distance, but I suppose it provides margin for the fact that the person fishing is much more visible than the line itself. The exception is when a fisherman is deliberately hiding his location, his “secret” fishing spot. They shouldn’t get bent out of shape when their concealment leads a passing boater to get too close before seeing that someone is fishing, but some of these old geezers are super-territorial and nasty.

When I’ve realized at the last minute where they are, I visibly veer away and say “Sorry!” That pretty much heads off an unpleasant encounter. After all, most people aren’t trying to hurt their fishing experience; it is usually a case of not seeing, not paying attention, or ignorance of the laws.

What throws things off is when a fishing boat that WAS under way suddenly stops. But I haven’t had much trouble with this, probably because I go places that usually aren’t jammed with fishing boats. In crowded waters, everybody gets irritable.

These days I stay farther from shore due to dropping water depths. I don’t want my ski’s rudder hitting rocks or mud or underwater bushes.

The last time I went out, something odd happened. After I had passed several stationary or slowly trolling boats, I looked back in about a tenth to a quarter mile. The boats all seemed to have followed where I went and started fishing in one spot. There had been many fish jumping as I paddled along, and I wondered if the fishermen noticed that. They’re curious anyway, at being passed when they are under way. Every fisherman has been polite, almost every boater has taken care not to pass by close. The couple of times there were jerks involved exclusively jet skiiers or wakeboaters.

So be courteous to fishermen. Around here, they’re potential allies against jetskiiers, who they dislike as much as paddlers do.