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Brad Laabs: Be respectful, helpful on the water this week

The holiday weekend of the Fourth of July is here. When the Fourth falls on a Friday or a Monday it seems we have above average traffic to our area as it becomes easier to tag vacation and holiday days to the week before or the week following. Even with the high wind, rain, and severe cold front of this last week we have had more anglers on the water than usual for the mid-week during this last week. I look for the same this following week. With the nice weather expected this coming week we will not only have more anglers out, but we will have pleasure boats and pontoons, skiers and wakeboarders, jet skiers and wave runners.

With all the additional traffic on area lakes and at the boat landings, it is important to remember to practice good boating etiquette. When you get to the access, pull to the side and get all your prep work done before getting in line to launch your boat. Remove boat tarp, transom saver, straps, put the plug in the boat, and make sure you load all your equipment.

When you come to the landing to load and leave for the day and others are launching, move to the side, make room for others that are also launching or loading.

After loading your boat, pull away and allow room for others to get in and out of the access while you clean your trailer of weeds, pull your plug, empty your live wells and bait wells, and strap your boat.

Be patient with others, as some only launch and load boats a couple time a year and aren’t as efficient as regular boaters. Offer help instead of complaints. Offer instruction in a pleasant way that helps to educate others. Some act like “it’s all about me” because that is their personality. Most seem to act that way only because they don’t know any better or haven’t been taught good boating/launching/loading etiquette.

When on the water, watch out for other boaters. We have already had several boating accidents and incidents over the busy holidays the last several years. Don’t cut others off or cut close in front of others boating path. Make sure you stay “boat wake responsible”.

If you are fishing, be respectful of others and give them their space. Nobody likes getting crowed off their spots when they were there first, especially if they are catching fish. Be line responsible and don’t cast over others lines, anchor ropes, or pitch into the water they are fishing.

Many will be on the water after consuming alcohol. This is a major cause of most dangerous boating incidents. Just like you need to do behind the wheel of a car, drive defensively and “watch out for the other guy” (universal term for person in this case).

I admit, I get irritated by some of the jet skiers, skiers, and other boaters. Not at all of them, as some seem to have a good grasp on knowing how to share the lake. I write this as much as a reminder to myself so I have the right attitude about respecting everyone’s right to enjoy the lakes. I am sure some of the other lake users get irritated with us anglers at times. I know I get irritated at some of us myself sometimes. We can get in each other’s way.

If we keep helping raise awareness of good boating practices, respect will improve. It is about progress, not perfection. Just think how quickly “catch and release”, and “selective harvest” have become the desired attitudes of anglers. This change has occurred in the last ten years thanks to positive education and reminders. Good boating practices on the water and at the landings can be positively changed with positive education and reminders as well. Be safe, be good, and have a great holiday week.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)