My son and I take karate lessons at a local dojo. At the beginning and end of each class we bow in and out and say our word “courtesy”. It’s a reminder to the students that courtesy, defined by Webster as “polite behavior that shows respect for other people”, is a very important part of the karate creed. It’s also of course something that is important in all aspects of our life. Courteous people are a joy to be around and tend to enrich others lives. Discourteous people, on the other hand, are apt to ruin your day when your path crosses with theirs.

The fishing world is no different. I’ve meet some wonderful people who love to fish and love to share that passion with others. They respect their fellow anglers as kindred spirits and they respect and treasure the animal that they pursue and the environment that they live in. I would say that the majority of the anglers I know fit into this category. This is particularly true of the group of guys I’ve fished tournaments with recently. Respecting their fellow competitors, giving room and not encroaching, asking to fish through etc. All good stuff.

Unfortunately, every once in a while a discourteous angler crosses our paths. I had such an occurrence today. My 8 year old son and I hit a few spots on the Thames today trying to catch a few suckers, carp, or catfish. At the end of our trip we visited my eldest son and his friends at a spot and sat down near him to wet a line. A short while later coming into the area I heard grumbling “this must be the only spot in town, gonna have to find a new one” (let’s just say I’ve cleaned up the language a little bit here). This fine fellow, with wife and I’d say three or four year old daughter in tow, continued this – more than loud enough so that all of us could hear – grumbling for some time. Now I can assure you, this spot, nor any other spot on this river within this city of nearly 400,000 people, is no secret honey hole, so this fellow’s claims on it are on quite shaky ground. That said, I packed it in shortly thereafter. This fellow’s discourtesy, his lack of politeness or respect, having soured an otherwise great outing with my sons.

Another incident come to mind from a tournament last year. Four grown older men decided that they would run their speedboat past the tournament anglers at high speed and at completely unsafe distances (they came within six feet of my boat and threaded the needle between two others). I called over the local conservation officer to let them know what had happened. What their motivation for this stunt was I can’t really say but what appalls me to this day is that not one of the three “men” (passengers in the boat) had the stones to say to the driver – “Hey, this really isn’t the right thing to be doing”.

Sorry for the rant, but this is really pretty simple golden rule type stuff here. Give respect, get respect, be courteous, have courteousness be shown to you. On the water and off, all our lives can be enriched with a little courtesy. Fish on…

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