As I returned from an outing recently on a local county lake whose managers offer aluminum boat rentals, I saw something that I still have a tough time believing.
Two boat renters who finished their day on the lake simply pulled the johnboats up on the launch ramp and left them there for someone else to move. They were supposed to be returned to a specified area, no more than 20 feet to the left of the boat ramp, but the visitors ignored that.
To make matters worse, I spotted two men in pickup trucks who were about to launch their own craft, but couldn’t until they picked up the lightweight johnboats and shoved them off the asphalt where they had been deposited earlier by those unthinking, or uncaring, dolts.
On a trip to an Atlantic Ocean fishing pier a few weeks ago, anglers who bothered to show up early just so they could claim prime rail spots on the wooden contraption, suddenly saw several young latecomers arrive and promptly wedge themselves between several senior citizen earlybirds without so much as asking for permission — without even a word of apology.
It was a kind of “in-your-face” move that the older fishermen tolerated to keep from having a confrontation.
Just a few days ago, a friend and I fished for bass in a tidal feeder creek to the Potomac River. Our boat quietly moved along the shoreline, its bow pointed toward a jutting creek point when another boater charged into the creek, made a sharp turn toward us, shut down a powerful outboard motor, then immediately began to cast his lures in our direction, no more then 100 feet away.
He actually moved upstream, quickly closing the gap between the boats and giving no indication that he was about to honor our watery path.
Common courtesy among bass fishermen — who use electric trolling motors while zipping their lures into the fallen, waterlogged trees of a creek bank where their quarry might lurk — calls for yielding the right-of-way to the boat that is clearly following a certain direction.
You simply don’t cut in front of a craft, then begin fishing toward the other boat. Only rude dolts do that.
In our case, a few choice words to the offender — a competition angler from Ohio — produced the expected. “I didn’t know I was bothering you guys,” he said. “I’m in a tournament and this is a stretch where my fish have been.”
“My fish”? What does that mean? An Ohio visitor can actually own live bass in a Maryland waterway — bass that he hasn’t even caught yet?
In the past, I’ve fished around a well-known river point in the Potomac River and had another angler come so close to my boat, his line actually touched the bow of my craft. I can’t repeat what I said to that hayseed. My boss would frown on me using such awful language.
Discourteous and rude behavior has even touched the world of recreational hunting.
I’ve been firmly ensconced on a comfortable seat in a woodland tree stand that was erected on private property, waiting for a deer to happen by, when a total stranger walked past my lofty hiding spot.
“Pssst, psst,” I sounded off and the stranger eventually looked up. “What?” he asked. I informed him that he was on private property and I was certain that he wasn’t one of the invited guests on the land.
The fellow said, “Let me tell you something. I’ve been hunting these woods for many years. Just because the original owner sold it to somebody who doesn’t even come from these parts doesn’t mean I’m going to stop hunting here.”
With that he gave me a rude salute with one of his fingers and walked on. What he didn’t know about was the nearby presence of a sheriif’s deputy who enjoyed a day away from his job. I quickly called the lawman on my cell phone (the ring tone was disabled; it would only vibrate to keep matters as quiet as possible) and the deputy intercepted the trespasser.
Let’s just say that this man will not again be seen in our patch of forest.