Hackney: What does 'sharing water' really mean?

I’m not so sure what this column is about other than to tell you that I had an incident with another angler on Kentucky Lake that’s gotten under my skin. I’m asking for some outside opinions. Frankly, I want to know if I have a legitimate complaint or if I need to conform to the new reality.

Before I get into the story, I want to get a couple of things on the record:

  1. The angler I’m talking about is a young Elite Series pro. He is not a recreational guy or a fan. He’s very much a part of our sport.
  2. He did not steal my spot. It was small and isolated. He made a long run and pulled right up on it. I’m sure he found it on his own, just like I did.

OK, here’s the story…

On the first day of BASSfest I was fishing the isolated spot I just mentioned when another Elite angler pulled right in front of me and started fishing. It was a funny kind of place. There was a long casting lane to throw into but the bite window was no more than 10 feet wide. You had to hit this little rise correctly or you weren’t going to do anything.

He really didn’t hurt me that day. He didn’t catch a limit. I caught a limit and culled twice. He didn’t help himself. I did. Even though I was a little put out by what he did, I kept my temper in my pocket and my mouth shut.

The next day, he got there first. I fished behind him because I didn’t think it was right to pull in front of him, regardless of the fact that he had done it to me the day before. His boat killed me. There is no doubt that him fishing that spot cost me the cut and a check on Saturday.

Normally, I wouldn’t complain. If he was there first, so be it. But the thing is that he was way behind me in the leaderboard. I had a shot at the cut. He didn’t. I would never have taken that spot from him on the second day under those circumstances. And, I can’t even imagine pulling in front of him like he did to me on the first day.

Another striking thing about the experience is that I could tell by the way he was acting and talking that he didn’t see anything wrong with what he did. As far as he was concerned, it was business as usual. All was good in his mind. But it’s not in mine.

In all fairness, I should have had a discussion with him on the first day and made my expectations clear. 

This is a problem that’s been getting worse over the last three or four years, and it seems to happen in offshore tournaments. No one thinks it’s OK to pull up and fish your laydown on the bank but, with some anglers, it’s perfectly fine to pull up (read: right in front of you) on your offshore spot and start throwing.

This is not a B.A.S.S. problem or an Elite Series problem. It’s happening just as bad over at FLW. It’s sport-wide as near as I can determine.

What do some of you guys think? Do I have a legitimate complaint, or have I allowed the modern world to pass me by these last few years? Is this the new reality of professional bass fishing? Are the unwritten rules no more?

Understand that I’m not talking about disputes over spots or sharing water. Many of us find the same places. Disagreements are a part of what we do out there. I’m talking about the specific facts of this incident — in front of my boat and not letting me have the spot when I was in contention and he wasn’t.

Please do not use angler names in your response and do not call anyone names, filthy or otherwise. I’d like this to be a serious discussion about the direction we’re heading.