Kayak Fishing Etiquette: To Do or Not To Do?

kayak angler ready to launch
A quick check of the gear before you shove off is all it takes to make the experience positive for everyone at the ramp. (photo courtesy of Courtney Bennett)

Fishing etiquette is mostly a matter of thinking about others as much as you think about yourself. It’s doing unto others—or not doing unto others—how you’d like others to treat you.

Let’s start at the ramp…

Kayak Fishing Etiquette at the Ramp

Kayak fishing etiquette begins with where, when and how you launch.

Regional Ambassador, Courtney Bennett, shared:

“It's always so frustrating when pulling up to a launch ramp with high hopes of quickly getting unloaded and out on the water only to find the ramp blocked by jet skis, boats, families letting their kids swim at the ramp, or even other kayakers who use the ramp to congregate.

“It's important to remember the ramp is there for boaters, jet skiers, and kayaks to use to launch. When unloading your kayak, try to do it quickly. Having your seat and gear already on your kayak when you lift it off your trailer, or out of your truck bed not only allows you and your partner to get on the water and start fishing faster, but it also helps whoever is patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting their turn behind you.”

ProStaffer, Eric Atkins, agrees: “Don’t be that kayaker jamming up the ramp when bass boats or other kayakers are trying to launch.”

Regional Ambassador, Chris Conder, has noticed something he likes to see:

“I see a lot of guys willing to help other anglers get their kayaks off of their trucks or racks. Whether this is motivated by wanting help yourself or just being nice, you hear people offering to help each other all the time.”

In short: Pull up, launch and be gone!

Kayak Fishing Etiquette on the Water

Kayak fishing etiquette is really the same as general fishing etiquette. Use common sense and think about how you want to be treated by other anglers.

Regional Ambassador, Chewy Linton: “Don't crowd another man's spot. Be kind, basically. It's not a contact sport!”

Chris Conder stresses:

“Keeping your paddling distance from another angler, especially during competition, is something that guys either don’t pay attention too or just don’t care. My general recommendation is two casts lengths from another angler.”

Sometimes etiquette changes, depending on the situation—whether simply a day out on the water or a tournament. Another factor to consider is whether someone makes his or her living as an angler. In that case, the stakes are higher and proper etiquette is more important.

For example, on a casual fishing day, you may have this scenario:

Regional Ambassador, Mark Rine, shares:

“If I just caught a tank I tend to back off and let someone else have a go at it until they get a substantial catch. This motivates me to help them in any way that I can and that they are willing. It makes a mutually exciting and fun time on the water.”

Chris Conder agrees: “Everyone should love a good game of River Leapfrog!”

fly fishing from a kayak
Kayak fishing etiquette is as simple as treating others like you want to be treated—be considerate!

But ProStaffer and professional fishing guide, Dee Kaminski, lists leapfrogging (jumping ahead to take a good spot) as one of her no-no’s.

A great solution to know whether or not it’s OK in your situation? Ask! Talk to the other anglers in the area you’re fishing.

Here are more pet peeves from our experts:

Regional Ambassador, Yakman Ont, says, “Ripping thought the weeds for a short cut…Making a lot of noise with their kayak…Fishing or paddling in high boat traffic spots.” All are inconsiderate practices you should avoid.

Rhonda Phillips, also a Regional Ambassador, hates when others are “purposely being loud on the water (splashing, loud music, etc) and ruining your casting spots by paddling over you’re fishing line.”

ProStaffer, Chad Hoover, brings up a relatively new issue in his Kayak Fishing Etiquette video (see below)—drone spotting. This is when someone uses a drone to find other kayakers’ fishing spots, and then moves in on them.

Chad says, “This is a really good way to get a bad reputation in the industry.” Use a drone to find clean water or a good spot, but respect the other kayakers already out there.

ProStaffer, Clint Taylor: “Something that has always bothered me is when you are fishing on a nice quiet river and then some kayakers paddle by with music blaring, cussing and being loud. It can really spoil the enjoyment I get from being outside. More importantly, I hate when I have guests that are out on the water experiencing cussing or loud behavior. It is all about respect and the privilege we have to kayak and fish the waters we do.”

In short: Be considerate of others!

Kayak Fishing Etiquette Off the Water

Even off the water, there are etiquette rules that align with common courtesy.

Chewy Linton shares:

“To me, the most annoying thing is the amount of crap talk that goes on in the kayak scene. You see the Bass Boat Pros and it's a family. You see the kayak organizations and it's like biker gangs. It is a HUGE turnoff to a lot of potential anglers and I wish it would just stop! It’s across all states and organizations.”

ProStaffer, Justin Powell, agrees. He says,

"There are a lot of people being just outright mean in the [fly] fishing community. Making fun of other people for the way they fish or where they fish, etc. A lot of this is done hiding behind computer screens via social media."

One of Dee Kaminski’s pet peeves is people “contacting me for info on where fish are, as I have spent years doing homework and putting in the time.”

A close cousin to that is spot burning—when one angler shares a favorite fishing spot with someone new to the area, and that new angler then shares that spot with all their friends on social media.

Don’t do those things, folks!

In short: Be respectful!

Chad Hoover produced a video on the topic of kayak fishing etiquette earlier this year:

The more of us who learn and follow these guidelines, the more the entire kayak fishing world will become a better place!

What questions can we answer for you about kayak fishing paddles? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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