Whether you fish offshore or in fresh water, if you’re not courteous to other anglers, you might be a googan, a mugger, a trespasser or, worst of all, a freeloader.
Those are the terms used by Tim Davis to describe anglers who see someone catching fish and run right over. Often they’ll spook the fish and maybe do some damage.
“Two weeks ago we were in about 1,200 feet of water, fishing the only matted weed that we’d seen all day,” said Davis, whose Gladesman Outfitters arranges bass, flats and offshore fishing trips. “Everyone had been trolling and giving up. We said, ‘Let’s put some live baits down’ and of course we hooked up immediately.
“We still had our trolling lines out and a guy sees us fighting a 15-pound dolphin and runs over the lines. It was probably $30 in tackle that that guy cost us.
“That’s who I call a mugger, someone who comes over and ruins the day.”
Rodd Sayler has been mugged numerous times while fishing for bass in Everglades canals with his teammate Steven Forssell.
One of the dominant bass tournament duos in South Florida, Sayler and Forssell scout hard-to-locate spots with good numbers of bass, so it’s disheartening when other anglers stop to fish near them.
“You hear that 250 Merc screaming down the canal and as soon as they go by, both heads turn and they slow down in front of us,” Sayler said. “We can have no one in sight in front of us, and they’ll come off the throttles as soon as they see us.”
Sayler said that if you’ve scouted the same spot another boat is fishing, then staying 100 yards away is courteous. If it’s not your spot, stay farther away.
When Sayler and Forssell get cut off by another boat, they’ll move to the other side of the canal and fish down 100 yards before moving back across in front of the other boat.
Capt. Mark Lamb used to fish for bass on Lake Okeechobee, where he and his teammate Daryl Deka won numerous tournaments. Now they only fish in saltwater tournaments and have been quite successful in fun fish and sailfish events.
Lamb said the mugging in fun fish tournaments is the worst.
When he fished the KDW Classic earlier this month, Hard Way was all alone off Hobe Sound when Lamb’s 12-year-old son Beau hooked a 38.8-pound kingfish, which gave him the top junior angler title.
“In the course of fighting that fish,” Lamb said, “we had three boats run by us, stop and set up within 200 yards.
“If you were bass fishing in an area and someone came in on top of you, you packed up and fished 20 other spots and didn’t let it bother you.”
Davis said those anglers could be googans or muggers.
“Googans, they don’t know. Muggers are going to do everything in their power to screw up your fishing,” Davis said. “Good fishermen are competitive, but they’re competitive while giving you plenty of space.”
Setting up in another boat’s chum slick is poor etiquette. Lamb said he did that accidentally early in his saltwater career and was corrected by the captain, who said, “Next time I’d appreciate you not setting up in my chum slick.”
“I learned to let other boats have their chum slick and go make your own.”
Davis said trespassers deliberately set up in another boat’s chum slick.
“The worst people that do that to me are the tournament guys,” Davis said. “They say to themselves, ‘I’ve got money on the line.’ They know what they’re doing. It’s to their advantage to get in your chum slick.”
He said freeloaders are the very worst because they just follow anglers who catch fish.
“That happened to me last week. This guy knows my boat and has seen me clean fish at the dock,” said Davis, who has a remedy for that.
“If I see another boat following us, I’ll stop and pretend to anchor and set up, then they’ll set up, and while they’re having trouble with their anchor line, I’ll take off and they don’t even realize what happened.”
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