has been covering the local coast for a few years now. Every season I get a couple reports
from fellow private boaters about nasty and sometimes downright dangerous situations that
develop on the water when they come in too close a contact with the big commercial party
boats. Heres the latest, regarding the Matt Walsh (pictured left):
08/12/99 - Hey mark I'm a long time reader of your page I love the info, by the way
you really do a great job reporting the info. I had a bit of a run in with the Matt Walsh
the other weekend I was hoping to get your opinion about it. I run a pretty small boat
16.5 deep v 100 horse motor I was out at the horse shoe the other week and I was hanging
out fishing near the Matt Walsh I didn't have an anchor so I would drift the Matt was
anchored and I would run up past it and the slowly drift past it. I have always tried my
hardest to keep my distance I was far enough away I was never in casting range. well after
a while I had given up on catching (the bite was dead) and began trolling well outside of
the Matt Walsh the captain eventually decided to move his boat after some time there and
purposely ran over my repallas cutting off one of them. I figured that he did this
accidentally and was fine with that but I found out later he actually was trying to cut me
off (he was actually bragging about it to his buddies at LA Harbor Sportfishing). I have
always tried to keep my distance. one thing this captain doesn't understand is that I like
going out on the boats at LA Harbor Sportfishing and have always tipped well and always
spoken highly of their landing. I guess this all I can say is that it was "bad
form" I wish we could all just get along. Any comments?
Sure bet I have some comments! Last season there were several incidents. The Freelance
used to be well known among private boaters as an accident waiting to happen, when Ken
Philips* was driving the boat. The Freelance would zip through a pack of private boaters
like Id go through a pack of Oreo cookies. I saw the boat rip through the fleet at
10 knots or better, nearly swamping small private boats, several times. There was an
incident a year or so ago when the Tide Change got into a pissing match with a private
boater. One of the guys fishing the TC actually tossed iron jigs at the small private
boat, nearly injuring the boat owner. To make this even worse they purposely cut off his
trolling lures, cutting through his pattern. This one ended up with complaints to the
Coast Guard. Youd think the ocean was big enough to prevent this type of situation
from developing. Well, its not; nope, not when we all try to fish the same bite.
So whats going on? The party boats are out trying to make a buck. Its not
an easy thing to do, lots of operating expenses, competition for filling sacks, hard to
get great help (compare our deckhands up here to those in SD...!). And, to make matters
worse, once they do find a bite to work, along come the private boaters surrounding them
like a pack of wolves (or school of hungry barracuda). To the party boat skipper, it must
feel like hes the guy making the investment in finding and building the bite with
chum. And, the private fleet is pimping them for their own fishing success. Shucks, they
dont even get a dime for their time or chum. Not to mention, the privates dont
even buy greasy burgers off the sportboats.... Its a situation that has inherent
frustrations, that sometimes translate into rudeness and downright unsafe operating
seen private boaters troll right up a party boats chum line, or drift within casting
distance to an anchored party boat. That can be a "buzz killer" to a building
bite. And, I dont begrudge a skipper from venting his frustration vocally, not at
all. Many of us private boaters have been guilty of using the sportfleet as our
"fishfinders" instead of using our own electronics. Heck, Ive been known
to do that when I dont take the time to search out my own bite. But, weve got
to respect the guy who found the fish first. And, weve got to do our part in
respecting another boats turf - whether the were talking a kelp paddy
offshore, or a local bite on barracuda or bass. Theres never an excuse for motoring
through a party boats chum line, or anchoring up to fish the same structure.
Its not going to work.
So, how do we manage to get along with one another out on the water? Heres my
view of "on the water etiquette."
- Find your own bite, youve got $500 or a lot more in electronics...learn to use
- If you are fishing with the fleet, stay out of the big boats way. Keep a good distance
away from the big boat, at least two casts distance from the sides or bow.
- Never troll through a party boats chum line. If you do have to cross try to go for
the bow, or stay 1/2 mile beyond the stern. Do not speed through their chum, or blaze a
trail behind the boat. If you "must" cross paths nearer than 1/2 mile, go slow
or drift through the chum line, dont motor through.
- Return a favor once in a while. If youve found a honey hole, dont be afraid
to spread the word to other boaters. Yep, you might make a friend by calling in a party
boat and/or the private fleet to a good bite. Party boat skippers have good memories.
What do you do when a big sportboat comes to your spot without an invite? Well, you can
get into a pissing match pretty quickly. Im not one to try to push out a big semi on
the freeway, nor would I consider pitting my 17 footer against an 80 foot party boat. If
the cattle boat encroaches on your turf theres not much you can do but move off, in
my opinion. This is especially true if you are on a drift. But, Ive seen and heard
of guys who were anchored up, and along comes the sporty and drops their anchor right on
top of you. They figure that the structure is "their" spot, too. My feel, move
off, its a big ocean, and there are lots of spots worth fishing. There are jerks in
every field, minimize your contact with em. And, remember them. Let your friends
know what happened. Let CharkBait know what happened. Post your contact on our message
board. Getting the word out will influence others who might be inclined to ride the party
fleet. Let the Kharma run its course.
Its also a good idea to let the landing know whats going on, and if
something occurs that is unsafe, let the Coast Guard know. No one likes paperwork, or
complaints being filed against their operation. Its a time eater, regardless of the
outcome, and time equals frustration. Bad word of mouth advertising isnt something
any operation needs, and complaints made to the Coast Guard are followed up on,
Lifes too short, and fishing hours are too hard to come by, to warrant getting a
coronary over some rude numbnuts. Find a new spot to fish, prospect your own bite, instead
of engaging in "combat fishing."
Here's a side point: An even bigger
problem facing both the big party boats and fellow private boaters has been the ever
increasing number of net boats (pictured). Both the sportboat operators and us
privates have had our run in's with these guys. While the private boaters haven't
seemed to have had any help from United Anglers or other concerned groups, the sportboat
operators may actually represent our best chance at putting a muzzle on these guys.
There have been several situations reported, and now videotaped, of these
boats dragging their nets right up the stern on the party boats, especially at night when
their illegal activities usually go unnoticed. Perhaps, if we look at common threats we
can work towards a solution together. Private boaters and party boat operators
working against a common threat might be very positive. These boats really put a damper on
a good bite...for good.