CHARLESTON, W.Va. — I heard the fellow from a distance.  He was standing on his boat dock in front of a very nice vacation home on the lake.  He was grousing about anglers fishing around his dock.  He said there should be a law that nobody should be allowed within 50 feet of his property.  I didn’t have to, but I did bypass his dock as I fished my way down the bank.

Another time, I had drawn a partner in a bass tournament and we were fishing in the middle of the lake. We were making long casts and fishing deep.  As we dragged lures along the bottom hoping for a bite, two jet skis came screaming toward us side by side. The pair of dare devils parted and passed on either side of our boat, turned around and made a loop back past us.  My partner was furious. He said there should be a law against that.

I’ve listened to the argument among users of lakes and rivers for years.  I’ve been on the receiving end of the verbal abuse for something I didn’t see as intrusive. I’ve also been the guy who grumbles because somebody deliberately shot through an area I was trying to fish.

This weekend, Memorial Day, is considered the opening of “boating season” across the country.  Fishermen have had their boats on the water since late February, but this weekend the rest of the fleet including the pontoons, run abouts, and jet skis will be on the water in large numbers. Those who are fortunate enough to have a place “at the lake” will be there too.  They’ll be firing up the grill on their dock and enjoying a well deserved vacation.

The bottom line is we all like the water.  Lakes and rivers offer a variety of recreational opportunities.  The last thing we need is a bunch of laws engineered to appease somebody’s gripe.  The first thing we need is some common courtesy.

Anglers, we all know the docks are great fish attractors.  I’ve seen some big bass pulled from underneath them.  Depending on the lake you need to check the regulations, but in most places as long as you’re on the water you are fine, but don’t cut your line and leave a fishhook in somebody’s dock rope.  It’s dangerous and only sours the dock owner’s disposition toward us.  Don’t throw lures and hit his boat and don’t get off your boat onto his dock.  Respect the man’s stuff.

If you enjoy riding a jet ski, realize there is a whole big lake out there. If you observe somebody fishing, make a mental note and give them a wide berth. There’s no reason to blow up a man’s hot fishing just because you want to do stunts between his boat and the bank.

If you’re riding a big pontoon or a run about please use the same judgment.  Be careful of your wake and try to keep it to a minimum in high use areas or where you see guys fishing.

Dock owners, you’ve worked hard and built yourself something nice.  We’re not trying to destroy it or infringe on your weekend plans.  We’re just trying to catch some fish.  Relax, enjoy the weekend without anger.

I pen this piece in hopes of creating a cum-ba-yah moment, or maybe just a Rodney King Moment.  “Can’t we all just get along?” The water belongs to ALL of us and no one user group is any more entitled to it than the next.  As our parents tried to teach us before kindergarten, be nice and share.  We’re all just lucky to have a chance to be on the water, let’s not go spoiling it with more restrictions or picking a fight.  You’re at the lake for the weekend—have fun and I hope I’ll see you on the water.

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