Stream Etiquette

As more people are learning to enjoy our fine trout streams in Western New York, it is necessary for all of us to use a little common sense and abide by the following guidelines when fishing:


Rule #1
In order to maintain good relations with the landowners and as a common courtesy please remember the following: most land adjacent to the water, unless it is state land, is privately owned whether it is posted or not. Crossing private land to reach a Public Fishing Area is neither legal nor ethical; especially when simply asking permission usually produces a favorable response. Please be aware that other fishermen would like to fish there too so don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

Rule #2
The first person in a pool or run has the fishing rights to it. If the stream is not crowded, give the whole pool to the other guy. If it is mobbed with people, make sure that you are at least a long cast (80-90 ft,) away from anyone else; more if the water is crystal clear.

Rule #3
While working the stream and you see another angler casting to rising fish or not moving at all, get out of the water and move well past him before entering again. This also applies when another person is fishing from the bank. In both situations stay far away from the edge so you don’t spook any of the fish.

Rule #4
Whoever is working UPSTREAM has the right-of-way. If you are going downstream, get out of the water. If you are going up, hope the other guy has read this.

Rule #5
If you meet another fisherman who is just sitting on the bank, ask from a distance if he is resting the pool or his body. Some people wait for a hatch at a particular place. If that’s the case, then get out of the water and go around him.

Rule #6
The most important rule is naturally the one that we always forget whether fishing or doing something else: “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”. When encountering someone else on the stream, put yourself in their waders and think.

Remember that the streams belong to all of us, and the other guy has just as much right to be there as you.

The above rules of etiquette are simple. The more people that follow them, the more enjoyable the experience will be for everyone.

Reprinted from:
The Trout, Salmon, and Steelhead Fishing Guide to Western New York.
Published by Western New York Chapter of Trout Unlimited, 4th edition.