Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 16, 2012

Excuse me, is this fishing spot taken?

By John Martino
Outdoors columnist

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We all need to adhere to unwritten code of common sense

It’s happened to all of us one time or another. If not, then you haven’t spent much time on the water. So what are the pros and cons of defending your turf?

There was one time in particular I will never forget. I was fishing a small lake in southern Indiana. Dawn had barely broken when I anchored next to a submerged brush pile. Before long I was plucking crappies like vine-ripened tomatoes.

Two guys on the other side of the lake saw me catching fish and immediately motored over and dropped anchor like I wasn’t even there. One fellow started casting right up next to my boat. I was at first surprised, then shocked, then angry.

I tried staring them down but neither would make eye contact. I then asked sarcastically, “What are you guys doing?” Again, no response. Back then I may have been a little hot-headed. OK, a lot. But in one of my better times of judgment, I finally just gave up and left.

Although there is no law against this type of encroachment, it still doesn’t make it right. There have been other times where luck was on my side and fishermen have approached in a friendly manner. Not only have I allowed them to fish with me, but also have given them lures providing the best success. Many friends, and a few non-friends, have been made on the water.

There is an unwritten code among all of us who enjoy our outdoor resources, especially in the areas of fishing and hunting. We all know it and understand it. But, like a lot of the good old things, the code is fraying under the pressures of our modern world. But still, most sportsmen abide by it, or at least try to.

A critical element of this code is respect — for the resource, the rituals and your fellow sportsmen. You arrive at your favorite spot and you find someone already there. Well, at the very least your plans have been altered. But you could make it a lot worse and crowd the angler who got there first, ruining the experience for both of you. Why not just look for another spot? In the long run, this just makes you a better angler because not only may you find another “honey hole,” but you’ll fish harder.

Or, you could just hang it up for the day and take measure and comfort in knowing you have done the right thing, realizing how upset you would have been had you been the first to arrive only to have a stranger crowd on top of you.

If you do find yourself being crowded by a disrespectful, thoughtless person, you have choices. If you don’t mind confrontations with the possibility of a serious throw-down, then have at it. Go ahead and give the intruder a piece of your mind hoping to at least make him feel guilty so that it won’t happen again. But never let it get out of hand.

I have fished salmon rivers where there is an accepted method of rotation when numerous anglers are fishing a particularly productive pool. Everyone knows, understands and respects it. Most bass fishermen know how close they can get to another boat without causing a problem.

And in truth, that’s the position we are all in when it comes to using a public resource. Everyone who enjoys wetting a line deserves a place to do it. But we need to adhere to the unwritten code of common sense when it comes to crowding. If we can’t stay within the ethics of non-crowding and mutual respect, then we are going to invite even more regulations. In the end we will find ourselves in yet another version of the world we thought we had fled!

Tournament Results

Members of the Kokomo Bass Anglers traveled to Michigan’s Grand River where the group held a two-day tournament.

After the first day of competition, Mike Bailey took the top spot after boating his limit of five largemouth bass totaling an impressive 10 pounds, 6 ounces. Second place went to Bob Graham with a five-fish limit weighing 9 pounds, 12 ounces. Dave Pross finished third with five bass dropping the scales at 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

At the conclusion of the second day, it was Bob Lawson claiming first place with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 13 ounces. A largemouth bass tipping the scales at 3 pounds, 11 ounces also earned him the tourney’s “big fish” honor. Henry Cavazos finished second with five fish totaling 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Third place went to Leslie Shelley with a limit weighing 8 pounds.

The Kokomo Seniors bass fishing club recently came off a tourney held on Lake Manitou. First place and the event’s “biggest fish” went to the team of Wayne Eades and Jerry Picket with five largemouth weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Their largest topped out at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Second place went to Larry Martin and Bob Graham with five fish weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces. Bob Rose and Wayne Nolder grabbed third with five fish weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

Rose and Nolder also took first place at last Tuesday’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney with five fish topping out at 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Mike Nolder and Dennis Goff took second with three fish weighing 6 pounds. Third place went to Larrel Norris and Dave Robertson with three fish weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces. A 2-pound, 5-ounce fish also gave them the tourney’s “big bass” honor.

Tribune Catches of the Week

Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Zack Thompson and Jason Newton cleaned 28 crappies, with their largest stretching 15 inches, after a recent outing on Mississinewa Reservoir. They hooked their catch using minnows.

Springhill Camp Ground and Pay Pit: Austin Hamblin hooked a channel catfish tipping the scales at 5 pounds, 9 ounces. He caught the fish using processed bait.

U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle: Craig Littrell had a fight on his hands while reeling in a channel catfish dropping the scales at 21 pounds, 5 ounces. The fish was hooked from a Miami County pond on processed bait.

• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.