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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pleasure Boating and Shoreline Fishing

Shoreline fisherman (me)
I had an experience yesterday while fishing in Washtenaw County that made me very angry.

I arrived at 7 a.m. to fish a new-to-me-spot on a popular lake. The lake is apparently very popular with pleasure boaters. After 4 hours of fishing with no real issues to speak of, boating traffic near my fishing location from the shoreline increased dramatically.

I have found that some boaters apparently have very little awareness and understanding that people do enjoy stationary shoreline fishing in a lake and they just as they have a right to launch their boat in it, the shoreline fisherman has a right to fish as long as it's not marked as a "no fishing" area.

An example from yesterday:

My friend and I were fishing in a stationary location with 6 fishing rods between us perched on bank rests to hold our rods while we wait for a bite. This location was not at a boat ramp. The boat ramp was at least a quarter mile (maybe more) from my fishing spot.

A woman and children walked up to the shoreline between the two of us with a bag of ice, a couple of bags and a cooler. At this point, I was actually pretty laid back with the idea that she planned to board a boat in that location even though we were obviously fishing there; and despite the fact that there was an area to our left and right where no one was fishing at all which could have allowed her to board the boat that was on it's way.

Understanding that shoreline fishermen and boaters have equal rights to the water I didn't say anything.

Her boating friend arrived and they boarded the boat. At this point I was still fine and not the least bit upset.

The boat then backed up, veered to the left, and proceeded to back directly over all 3 of my lines in the water. (I use 50 pound braid on my rods, which is not a cheap line at all.)

The boat throttled up and began streaming line from my left rod at a very high rate.

I yelled at about the same time a passenger on the boat realized that they snagged my line with the propeller. The boat captain throttled down the motor at that point.

I retrieved some scissors and cut the line to avoid the boat dragging my entire $100 reel and $100 rod into the lake. At that point he then moved forward and snagged my other 2 lines. Luckily those were not wrapped in the propeller as well.

Some words were exchanged between the boat captain and I and they were on there way out onto the lake.

Some observations for would be boaters that may read this:
  • Please remember that just because you own a boat and launch it into a body of water it doesn't give you priority rights to that body of water over anyone else.
  • Please be courteous.
  • If you decided to beach your boat near a fisherman and drive straight in to that spot, please try to drive straight out when you leave.
  • If you are in doubt as to where lines may be in the water, please ask.
  • If there is an alternate location a few yards down the bank to beach your boat, please be considerate and beach in that location.
  • These few simple considerations will help make your boating experience more pleasant and it will also help the shoreline fisherman have a nice day on the lake as well.
  • Boaters and shoreline fishermen need to share the water. Each have equal rights to use the water. Neither has priority over the other one.
  • Common sense and courtesy are the order of the day in those situations.


  1. Brian, I hare had many experiences with boaters coming in towards my lines. Let me share a little with you. When you see boaters approaching in a direction that may foul your lines, it is adviseable to stand up and motion to them to indicate where your lines are. Also you might have courteously asked the woman to move to the spot away from your lines, of course explaining why. This may have prevented your loss of lines. I usually have scissors or knife handy in case someone snags one of my lines, cut quick to save the rod and reel.

  2. Sure. It's definitely prudent to be aware of approaching boaters. This issue could have been prevented by merely backing straight out as the boat pulled straight in. The wife, kids and boat captain were fully aware we were fishing. The responsibility is not mine to warn the boater about something they were fully aware of. I feel boaters have a responsibility to be in control of their own vessel. I do think it will hopefully create more awareness for the boat captain in the future.

  3. Hello Greetings from Denmark, I used to have the same problem with kayakers, or even just fishing with 3 rods, you get a take on one and it gets tangled into the other lines, I have started to use “backleads”, just cast out, clip on your backlead, let it slide down your line to the bottom, your line will now lay flat between you rig and the backlead.



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