As I approached the lake on a hot summer day, I noticed a major change. A parking lot that was completely empty a few months ago is now packed full. There was a variety of fancy trucks and SUVs lined up as far as the eye can see. As I reach the launching area, I encounter a strange occurrence. Is this a line? What do you mean I have to wait to launch?
At first a moment of frustration, then after a deep breath I realize that everyone is here to enjoy the beauty and fun the lake has to offer. There is plenty of water to go around. A pleasurable experience is what we all came for, and with a little etiquette and common courtesy, we can all leave feeling satisfied.
To start the day on a positive note, we all must understand that the launching facilities are designated for just that, launching your watercraft. This means it is best to load all your gear, take off trailer straps and prepare everything for the day prior to waiting in line to launch. By doing this, everyone will be able to get out on the water in a timely fashion. It is OK if you have to tie to the dock and occupy a launching spot, just try your best to park and return promptly.
Once everyone is out on the water, it is important to consider each other’s expectations for the day. Many people are spending time with their family and children of all ages, others are hanging out with their friends and some are simply enjoying the atmosphere and a few might be fishing. It is best to try and match your behavior with your surroundings.
If you are on the main lake, jet skies are racing back and forth, wake boats are playing loud music and cheering as skiers, boarders and tubers crash and burn or do 360’s and backflips. That’s awesome, more than welcome and for anglers this is not a location to try and fish in solitude. But, when approaching calm and quiet parts of the lake, take note that the boaters in these areas are there for that reason. It’s relaxing, still, and a nice place to drop a line or kick back and enjoy the scenery. When coming near one of these areas, it is a good time to turn off the tunes and pull back on the throttle.
Safety is No. 1 when it comes to water sports and boating in general. Keep your eyes open and a safe distance from all other watercrafts. If someone has an orange flag waving, use caution and slow down. I will always look multiple times to make sure they are not in need of assistance. I have gladly towed many stranded boats back to the ramp and it is our responsibility to look out for each other.
At the end of the day we are all usually tired, hot and anxious to get off the water. We must still be patient and courteous. If possible, drop a driver for the vehicle off and idle nearby until your trailer is in the water. Load the boat securely and pull back up to the parking lot to tidy things up and finish strapping down.
The lakes in the Mother Lode are full of water and they are a great refuge on these hot summer days. Sharing the water and keeping the interest of others in mind will ensure we all have a safe and pleasurable experience on the water.
John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932 or xperiencefishing.net