BlogNovember 2015

Golden Fishing Rules You Should Never Break

Golden Fishing Rules You Should Never Break

By Debbie Hanson

Nov 29, 2015

Almost every beginning angler has unknowingly broken one or two golden fishing rules while learning about the sport.

Almost every beginning angler has unknowingly broken one or two golden fishing rules while learning about the sport. While mistakes are one of the ways you learn, you don't want to make the same mistakes twice. As you evolve as an angler, you will reflect back on your first few fishing trips and realize that you probably could have avoided a few cold stares or harsh lectures from fellow anglers by being more mindful of others.

The easiest way to explain how golden rules work, in life or when fishing, is to remember to treat others as you would like to be treated. For example, when I was about six years old, I remember taking a huge bite of my brother's chocolate chip cookie when he wasn't looking. Mom caught me in the act, and then promptly asked how I would feel if my brother took a big bite of one of my cookies without asking. Considering the fact that I LOVED chocolate chip cookies, she made her point very quickly.

Anyway, whether it's a chocolate chip cookie or a fishing spot, the golden rules should apply. If you need a few specific examples of golden fishing rules, I've listed some for you below.

  1. Leave your hand-held GPS at home when on a fishing trip with a friend or charter captain. Anglers usually invest a great deal of time into researching good fishing areas. Unless they tell you in advance that it's OK, leave your GPS behind and be respectful of the hours they have spent researching those coordinates. They would do the same for you if the roles were reversed, right? Besides, you can always use the Places to Boat and Fish Map to find great new spots of your own.

  2. If you are fishing a new area or visiting another state, take the time to read their fishing rules or regulations. When out of town anglers visit your home waterways, you expect them to follow the fishing regulations, right? Absolutely! So, don't forget that you need to do the same when planning fishing trips to other states.

  3. Keep a reasonable distance from other boaters and anglers. While there is no hard and fast fishing rule here, a good general guideline regarding the amount of distance you should keep between yourself and other boaters is at least 50 yards. Now, if you are fishing from shore at a popular spot or at a local fishing pier, keeping this amount of space between you and other anglers in the area may not be possible. In this situation, use your best judgment. Allow as much room as you can to cast safely without crowding other anglers.

  4. Practice overall courtesy. Most of the time, beginning anglers just simply aren't aware of the fact that they may be breaking one of the golden fishing rules, so always give them the benefit of the doubt. If they are being too noisy, make a courteous request that they keep the noise level down. Politely communicate with fellow anglers if you witness something that doesn't align with your fishing code of ethics. By doing so, you have the chance to turn what could be an uncomfortable situation into an educational experience.


What are the most important takeaways from this post about golden fishing rules? Think about how you would like to be treated by other anglers while on the water, make sure you know the state fishing laws or rules, and don't sneak a bite of anyone's chocolate chip cookie when they aren't looking.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.