Adapted from Fishing Tips by Tread Lightly!
Fishing is one of our nation’s most popular outdoor recreational activities. Being a fisherman isn’t just about finding the perfect fishing hole, casting a line and reeling in your limit. It’s about respecting the areas you fish and sustaining the populations of your favorite species.
By practicing responsible fishing principles, you not only care for the environment you also help protect access to recreational fishing areas for years to come.
When you’re out on the water enjoying the sport you love, keep in mind the following tips for responsible fishing:
Only boat in areas open to your type of watercraft. Keep to designated waterways and launch your boat only from designated ramps. Maintain a manageable speed and carry a Coast Guard-approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
Respect the Rights of Others
Be considerate to other anglers, as well as swimmers, skiers, boaters, and divers others who are on and around waterways to fishing spots. If fishing by boat, don’t crowd other anglers or boaters. Practice catch-and-release and keep only the fish you need.
Educate yourself prior to your trip. Know the local fishing laws and regulations, including bag limit and legal length/size of fish you intend to keep. Take recreation skills classes and know how to operate your equipment safely.
Obtain a map or chart of your destination and determine which areas are open to your type of boat and fishing.
Avoid Sensitive Areas
Don’t operate your boat in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds. Choose access to fishing spots wisely; be mindful of damaging fragile vegetation and soils along shorelines and avoid seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
Do Your Part
Leave the area better than you found it. Pack out what you pack in and carry a trash bag to pick up litter left by others. In particular, pack out any discarded fishing line—monofilament line is especially dangerous to wildlife.
Use artificial lures whenever possible. Live bait can accidentally introduce exotics to an area. If you do use live bait, use bait native to the area.
If practicing catch-and-release, use barbless single hooks and keep fish in the water as much as possible. When holding a large fish for a photo, hold it horizontally and support its weight.
Before and after a trip, wash your gear, watercraft and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species. Drain livewells, bilge water and transom wells at the boat launch prior to leaving.
Learn more about how to minimize your impact on the environment and responsible recreation practices at TreadLightly.org