Sarcastic Fishermen

So I’m paddling upstream on the St Joseph today in a spot where the current is a little faster than my usual spot and as I go around a bend I go from the quiet inside of a bend to the outside of a short bend where the current is fast and gurgling and it’s one big long confused eddy for maybe 50 yards. There’s a fishing boat on the other side of the river so I dutifully slowly grind upstream in the current to give them plenty of room. Then there’s a splash ahead of me and I realize they’re casting across the whole river. So I decide to cross the river and paddle behind them (where the water is dead calm) to stay out of their way. As I’m crossing and approaching their boat I hear “are you sure you don’t want to stay on that side?”. I said I thought it might be a little easier on this side. He said “do ya think?!”.

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Well, I’ve noticed that many fisherfolks are not familiar with competent and courteous paddlers. I’ll line up to cut behind them while keeping a quiet paddle & some will back up and force me to go where they were fishing. Most are pretty decent about sharing space but, like the populationa s a whole, some are *******s.


Most fishermen are OK, but some just can’t wait. The worst are impatient fly fishermen - you can’t even go behind them once they get that line whipping back and forth…

This is the Riverton section of the Farmington in CT.

That’s an example of a paradox TomL: You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

If you see the fish catcher again, maybe you could ask if we all just can’t get along?


I’ve dealt with my share of impatient fishermen. I try to stay out of their way as much as I can but often they move right into my line of travel when I’m too close to adjust much. The way many of them react you’d think the world was going to end because I paddled by.

I think many underestimate my speed; most assume kayaks are stationary or nearly so and I’m doing 3.5 - 4 knots. I have the same issue with other boats; they treat me like an immovable object and then are really surprised when I’m right next to them.

We have a fair number of small boats around here that are used for fishing charters, ie a guide and paying customers. If I can recognize the boat as a charter I will do my best to stay away from them. But honestly after a 15-20 mile paddle when I have attempted to avoid 50 fishing lines and 30 boats I get a little tired of it.


I am both a kayaker and a fisherman. Most rec paddlers are not courteous and left their intelligence on the shore.

Every day I fish I have people paddle right up to me to ask how the fishing is. About every other time I am working a fly, someone will paddle under my backcast and bitch because it almost hit them.

I also agree that some fishermen are to blame. I have tried to get past boats anchored in the only narrow spot for ten miles and get mad because I want to get by. I also see messes of fishers who think kayak inputs are for them and won’t pull their line out of the water when kayaks come in.

Do what you can and try to keep things from ramping up, but mainly don’t underestimate hoe few people use their brains on a regular basis.


Well I mis-communicated again. The young fishermen were just kidding around with me and I’m still chuckling about their comments today. We had a lovely chat about the weather as I passed their anchored boat. Overall I have no issue with fishermen; they are generally extremely courteous and I feel that they are like-minded folks that enjoy the outdoors. Yesterday the only fishing boat that passed me throttled back to be courteous so of course I was hit with their original high speed wake plus their even bigger throttled-back wake, but I appreciate the gesture and we shared a friendly wave.


Its funny how small this big world is. I try to be cautious, courteous and accommodating. I only got the goat of one guy fishing from the shore on a point. I fish so I gave what I thought was ample distance to avoid his submerged line. I apologized and said I’ll move out. He told me to stay there so he could cast a one ounce weight to show me how far I had to move. All I could do is shake my head and paddle away. What was the point of telling him the fish could sense anger through the rod, like cans stretched beyween a string. “It could happen!” Which is why I didn’t tell him.

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Boats usually aren’t a problem where i paddle. The problem is when numerous fishermen wade out into shallow water along a single stretch of river (like the picture above). We try to avoid them by paddling behind or away from their lines, but invariably you get half way down and have to stop for someone to cast or pull in a line. While we are waiting we are blocking the guy(s) upstream. Get a big group of boaters trying to go through and it is even worse. Not our fault - if they just pulled in their lines and let us zip through we would be out of their way.

Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve not encountered many discourteous paddlers regardless of skill level. It’s one of the things that makes our sport special, in my opinion. Sure, rec paddlers tend to be inexperienced. They haven’t learned accepted paddling etiquette (if there is such a beast), and they may not be out on the water for the same reasons as the dedicated enthusiasts.
Unless they’ve thrown a fly, they probably don’t know what a back cast is, or that the danger zone is actually behind the fisher. And when they ask “How’s fishing”, I choose to believe they want to be friendly, not bothersome. Now that I think about it, aren’t we all rec paddlers at some level?
One think I know for sure: I’ll take a hundred rec paddlers over one hot-shot jet skier any day of the week.


And we’re all just big kids! With busted joints.


I leave the launch then turn a corner and steer into the channel a hundred yards from the shore to avoid the people at the fishing site. A friendly wave exchanged, but I can’t help feeling apprehensive. From my vantage point, I can see the rental boats parading in that direction exploring the shoreline, toward the unwary fishers with lines cast. Did it myself when I had a 9 foot Perception Swifty. Maybe someone will post a sign. “Beware Fishing People”

Florida’s Sebastian Inlet State Park had to close their fishing jetties for a while due to aggressive conflicts between fishermen and boats that were navigating the Intracoastal Waterway to and from the Atlantic and the Indian River Lagoon.

Marine navigation through Sebastian Inlet can be treacherous under certain conditions. Wind, waves, tides - the channels are narrow and the Intracoastal Waterway guarantees a twelve foot depth - which is problematic where most of the Atlantic shore and the Lagoon often aren’t deeper than three feet (if that). Boats going through there must maneuver carefully, often just to remain upright. And that can be a problem because lines are sometimes cast out into the ICW by fishermen standing on the jetties.

Well, too often a small craft needs to move over for other passing boats. Sometimes they have to change course (in the ICW) to engage steep swells or breaking waves. And they run over the fishing lines in doing so.

Fishermen were getting more and more angry until some of them began casting large, weighted, bare hooks into the passing boats. There were some injuries.

I don’t remember exactly what was done to finally resolve the conflict. For a while though, I had the whole jetty to myself for Red Tide monitoring (FWC water sampling).

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Fisherman, inlets, paddling in on an ebb - no fun.
When paddling in an inlet (eg: Fort George Inlet, St Augustine Inlet) (haven’t been in through Seb.) on an outgoing tide, it’s easiest to paddle very close to the jetty - much less current. When there are fishermen on the jetty (or near it in a boat), I have to go out and fight the current.

I don’t fish and I know zilch about fishing. So please someone who knows, tell me what to do beyond the obvious, which I already do — i.e. when I see a fishing line I paddle around it giving a wide berth. But that’s the only thing I know to do.


When I have to get near them, I call out, “am I clear of your line?” Nobody has ever been rude to me and some thank me for asking.
I think putting it that way makes the point that we both have a right to be there.
Most importantly, it reduces the chance that I’ll get an invisible line across my bow that might hook me.


It does come down to common sense. I launch at the posted area where the rental kayaks launch. People fish there and look disturbed when boats launch from the spot. I point at the sign and shrug, saying I should be long.

The rentals paddling into the lines of the people at the designated fishing site could be warned by a sign. The person who threatened me was upset at all boats passing through the channel where he found fish (obviously boats weren’t disturbing the fish if he caught fish there). I didn’t cross his line, I paddled over his submerged weighted hook. Sometimes war is the only answer.

That sounds like the ticket, thanks.

Most everyone around here reels it in as we come by. I’m more worried about running into an abandoned lure hanging from a line tangled in a tree branch - there is a black braided line out there that is pretty much invisible. Feeling one on my face and realizing it is a fishing line pulling the lure toward me always gets the old adrenaline going. So far my neck is hole-less.

And little do they know or realize that it is we, the ‘serious’ kayakers/canoeist who assist in keeping much trash from many sections of rivers, where ‘tubers’ and ‘weekend warrior boaters’ dump their trash, so they don’t have to haul it out in ‘their’ boats. We bring along containers to put ‘their’ (including some ‘fishermen’s’) trash in & by doing so, we assist in keeping fishing holes & the rivers, more clean & healthy. When my group of advanced, female kayakers paddle along, we ask as we approach those fishing, whether they want us to go in front or in back of them, and while moving along, try to be as quiet (group rule) as possible. May you all enjoy the water for your favorite sport.