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The dos and don’ts of multi-use rivers

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POSTED May 5, 2010 2:37 a.m.
I hate renting land to stand on or walk through to get to the water, but that is whole separate discussion that would probably require a hardback binding, not a simple fold.

But as this is a column and summer fishing is within sight, the camper/fisherman dynamic must be discussed, in brief.

Multi-use river stretches can be complicated as multiple groups of people have multiple definitions of recreation for the same body of water.

Fortunately there is a somewhat natural order to the way things develop. I wake early to fish not just to avoid rock tossers, dogs or juvenile courtship, but because the morning bite is usually the best.

I was out on the water by 5:45 Saturday morning, after a methodical rigging session I should have done the night before. The water looked like tub water in a cold bathroom, steam rising gently through the early lines of light.

By 9:30, earth was completely awake, and so were its denizens. Families appeared with boats, kayaks, canoes and pets.

We were essentially pushed from the water by these factors, and that seal that was milling around just as the fishing was getting good.

We still had the rest of the weekend, so we weren’t put off, but did put down some thoughts about what constitutes a partisan relationship on the river.

If you are a fisherman ...

Do: Understand that it’s just as much your river as someone else’s, which also means, it’s just as much their river as it is yours, and semantics are where problems arise. As much as you might feel your fly-fishing hobby is more one with the purpose of the river than the stick tossers, they have the same right. Now if they are littering beer cans, that’s a different story.

Don’t: Assume you can show up at the river and do just what you want. Telling kids to get out of the water so you can fish will just make you look like a huge jerk.

Do: Clean up after yourself. They money you paid for access does not include housekeeping, and on public land, it’s understood you won’t be a slob. If you leave couches, clothing, beer cans or anything except the occasional fly 18-feet up in a tree, may you buy a sleeping bag laced with poison ivy because the guy who sold it to you didn’t bother to clean up either.

Don’t: Kill for the sake of pictures. Even after generations of people seemingly bent on destroying fish populations, there are still anglers that will catch and kill everything they can, just because they can. If everyone in the past had that attitude, there wouldn’t be any fish left for you to kill, so remember your size in relation to past and present, on a global scale.

Do: Be polite. Stereotypes start with one person. If you turn a kid off to fishing because you were mean to him and his dad who is going to read my column when I become a real outdoor writer?

If you are not a fisherman ...

Don’t: Toss sticks, rocks or siblings into the water up river from fishermen. Most of us want to move up, so if possible, move down river and respect the person there before you.

Do: Keep your dog on the leash until you know the river is clear. I’ve swung around more than once to the sound of a dog crashing through the brush. It’s dangerous not only for fishermen with weak hearts that are allergic to bear attacks, but also to dogs not knowing to what they are running. My buddy Nate has had unattended dogs literally chase his fly out into the water.

Don’t: Feel too bad if we don’t talk too much. We are friendly enough, but the end for us is in the water, not next to it.

We have craved solitude and living poetry, so give us a minute to let the coffee kick in or the communication skills to be reeled back in. If you want to watch, don’t watch from directly behind us. No one wants a No. 3 Umpqua Special in the ear.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail

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