On the water ethics

About the author

Brent Chapman

Brent Chapman

Brent Chapman is the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

For those of you who watched the The Bassmasters television show that covered BASSfest from Lake Chickamauga, you’ll have seen the KVD vs. Ike mini-confrontation. While I wasn’t involved, nor do I know all the details to comment on it directly, it did give me the idea for this column.

Fishing, at any level, is a lot like everyday life. I like to do unto others as I would like done unto myself. It is a level of professionalism and respect that we should all try to work toward. It isn’t always easy to find the right balance between polite and competitive, but common courtesy and being a person of good character should always be top priority.

When I am considering moving to an area or fishing near another angler, I usually ask myself would I want someone to do that to me. There are so many cases where I will make a run (sometimes long distances) to fish a particular spot, and when I arrive there is another boat or boats already fishing it. These boats could be fellow competitors or a couple of local anglers out having a day on the water.

No matter who they are or whether or not they are fishing for $100,000 or for fun, they are fishing it. To just move close to them and start fishing is a tough call and isn’t something I would like done to me. It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but I generally move on to another area. If the area and the circumstances are right, I will ask if they wouldn’t mind if I fished around them, but either way it affects my fishing and more than likely theirs as well.

On tour we find ourselves fishing in close proximity to other anglers often, and for that most of us have some guidelines we follow. The odd thing is the guidelines aren’t published and generally aren’t taught to us when we make it to the Bassmaster Elite Series. For the most part it boils down to two things: (1) find your own water and (2) if you haven’t fished an area on the first day or two of the event and someone else has, it’s their area.

When the answer is not black and white, I use the “do unto others as I would like done unto me” me test. After all, we fish against the same guys every event, no matter which decision we make we can expect the treatment returned someday. Sometimes we look back and realize we should have made better or different choices. At the end of the day, we have to live with the decisions we make.

This will be something to keep an eye on at our next event at the Delaware River. It's a new body of water for the Elite Series, and it fishes rather small. It should make for an interesting tournament.

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