Boating and Fishing Etiquette: Wake Up

There are some fantastic fishing and boating locations in the United States. In fact, this summer Take Me Fishing™ released their Top 100 Family Fishing and Boating Spots in America. But despite the abundant water resources, these waters must be shared by people pursuing different recreational activities.

Shore Fishing Can be Ruined by Wake

Recently, my son and I experienced a situation on the Allegheny River where a boater shut down our shore fishing. A boat drifted by, then proceeded to fire up the motor, race upstream one hundred yards and drift in front of our lines probably half a dozen times. I gave them a polite wave on the first pass. No wave on the second. Hands on my hips for the third. By the fourth, I was contemplating going back to doing some more waving. They probably had no idea they were messing things up for our shore fishing, but here’s how:

  1. Noise. Our stealthy, low profile shoreline approach kept the smallmouth bass within casting distance until the; boater went by the second time. Then they disappeared.

  2. Waves. The wake created by the boat going upstream created waves crashing on the rocks. Fish holding shallow areas slipped to deeper water to avoid the disturbance.

  3. Turbidity. The wake agitated enough silt from the bottom in some areas that it was no longer possible to view any fish, even if they had stayed. After a few minutes the river would clear again revealing an absence of fish, and then the boat would make another pass and stir things up again.

In a boat, you have access to the entire body of water for offshore fishing. Shore anglers are stuck, well, on shore. With lakes, trolling motors rarely disturb shore anglers but I still give a wide birth when offshore fishing in my boat. However, on most rivers outboard motors are needed to handle the current and the shore wake effect seems intensified. After registering your boat, have fun! But keep in mind you may be sharing the water with anglers fishing from shore.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.