By: Mike White
April 4. 2020
"Working the Birds" is a term used to describe a style of fishing on the coast. When fish school up and start feeding, they push the bait fish closer to the top of the water making the baitfish an easier target for seagulls to swoop in and grab an easy meal. If you have ever seen gulls group up on the beach or over water, they look like a bunch of vultures in a swarm.
Fishermen will sit on the water during the right time of year and watch for the gulls to gather over a school of fish. Once spotted, the fishermen speed over just close enough to cast a bait into the school and start fishing.
This is an exciting way to fish. The anticipation of spotting a school of fish, the breakneck speed peeling the skin back on your face as you skip off waves boating over and the rapid casting you do trying to keep your lure wet dials the excitement up next level when the fishing is hot.
Schools of fish are unpredictable, Some may feed for a while, allowing you to take multiple fish and the next dives down and you only get a couple. The time you have to catch the fish can be gone in a flash, especially if you push the fish with your boat, or someone in another boat screams up too hot and slides up too close or even slides into the school of fish.
Having a boat bust your school of fish happens way more than you would think. When fish are schooling on the top, the fishing pressure is high. There will be a lot of boats on the water, all wanting to get to the next school that pops up. Multiple boats with skilled captains on a school can be ok. Boats that come in to hot and push the fish are not.
Giving another boat and fisherman plenty of room is one of the unwritten rules of fishing, it's just plain old courtesy and respect. Most experienced fisherman follow the these unwritten rules or fisherman's code as it's called. For those that are new to fishing, here is a list of the unwritten rules I could think of while writing the draft of this post.
1. Don’t get in another angler’s spot
Unless you enjoy tangling lines, scaring the fish off, and getting some angry glares, make sure to leave more than enough room between you and your neighbors. If you see a certain spot is getting a lot of action, don’t just mosey on over in an attempt to join in. Wait for the other angler to leave or come back later. Don't be a "Pot Licker"
2. Clean up after yourself
If you take it on the water, take it off the water. Our beautiful waterways are a gift from God, respect them and Him. It riles me pretty good when I see snack wrappers, cigarette butts, beer cans and other trash floating on the water. A pet peeve of mine are guys that leave discarded line in the water or on the bank. This line often entangles fish, turtles and other wildlife, often killing them.
3. Help Yourself
There's a lot to learn when you first start fishing. You may have lots of questions and that's fine. However, the best way to learn is by getting your hands dirty. Don't make your new fishing buddy do all the work for you. You will remember the lessons you learn much easier if you get some hands-on experiences.
4. Don’t Rock the Boat
Throttle back a little when passing boats that have stopped and are fishing and be respectful of other fishermen and their lines. This goes for other boats and bank fishermen as well as for the guys in your own boat. Watching out for other's lines is especially important when navigating your boat along the shoreline.
5. Stay for a While
Be prepared to stay for the long haul. Whether it's your boat and you invited friends or you are the one who has been invited to go fishing. Just because you're the captain, don't pull up anchor and head in if people are having fun and, if your are the quest, expect to stay out until your host calls it a day. This is especially hard for new fishermen who haven't developed the patience for some types of fishing or haven't garnered the skills they need to catch fish as fast as others on the boat.
6. Don't Whine
Everybody has an "off" day. Maybe you're being out fished or maybe your wife kicked you while the dog was peeing on your leg that morning. Don't whine. It may be cold, the fish aren't biting and it's raining. Don't whine. And especially, don't critique your partners fishing style, choice of rods or decision on where to fish.
And remember, trash talk is part of the game but know where the line is and don't cross it and, make sure you are able to take it as good as you dish it out.
7. Respect the Anglers who Arrived Before You
8. No Bananas
Don't bring bananas on someone else's boat.
Many consider this the most critical, unwritten rule of fishing. It may only be a superstition but it's roots run deep in the ancestry of fishing. Back when boats were much less safe to travel in, they sank much easier. Because bananas float, they were often found over the wreckage of a capsized boat.
I also think the fact that bunches of bananas often housed bugs, spiders and snakes added to this superstition.
No matter the origins of this superstition, DON'T BRING BANANAS ON A BOAT!
9. Help Out
Much hard work goes into a fishing trip. As a guest, always be as much help as you can. This includes helping from the pre-trip through the post trip. Help get the boat trailer hitched to the truck, toss in a few bucks for your share of the gas on the way to the launch and drive the trailer off the ramp. Heck, just hold the rope to the boat while the trailer is being parked, every little bit helps. And, at the end of the day, learn how to clean the fish you caught and get your hands dirty.
10. On the Boat Ramp
If I had to guess, more fights have started at the boat ramp than on the water. Again, some of the things done on boat ramps are done unknowingly by someone new to the sport, others are done what I call the "willfully ignorant" and a few are done out of selfishness and rudeness. This is a whole blog post in itself but I will list a couple of my pet peeves;
· Don't park on the ramp
· Don't use both lanes of a doublewide ramp
· Practice your backing skills before you get to the ramp
· Don't swim at the ramp
More than once, while fishing, someone not following one rules of fishing above has spiked my blood pressure and causing me to engage in some really petty and mean spirited conversations with the perpetrator.
As I have grown older and grown as a Christian man, I am less bothered (not unbothered) by anglers that don't follow the these rules. I attribute some of this to simply maturing as my hair has fallen out. But what gives me the largest source of strength is knowing and understanding grace, especially the grace of God.
I like to think that most of the guys that buzz me at 70 mph, crowd in on a honey hole or cut me off on a shoreline are new, inexperienced fishermen and that they deserve a little grace. After all, I think to myself, look at all the grace God has shown me, even when I didn't deserve it.
I think of the graces he showed me before I even knew him, the explosion of rays from the mornings sun, the symphony of sounds the animals make while I sit in a deer stand, the beauty of the beast I haul from the sea. The laughter and love of family and friends. All magical and all provided for me by the grace of God.
Another grace God provides me is grace for my sins. Because he loves me, he has provided this grace over my sins. God purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave all our sins because he is a grateful God.
Our salvation is not because of anything we have done, or are even capable of doing. It is solely a matter of God's grace. He offered his salvation to us simply as an act of his grace.
Jesus Christ was tortured, his blood spilled and he was crucified till dead. His horrific death showed horror, heaviness and suffering caused by sin. Not some sins, all sins, as every sin. All of them.
Jesus' life was sacrificed so that we have the opportunity to follow him and escape death by one day living eternally along His side in heaven.
To receive God's Grace, all you need to do is say small prayer repent from sin, ask God for forgiveness, confess belief in Jesus Christ, and accept him as your Lord and Savior.
My prayer today is that, if you do not know the grace of God, that you will say this short prayer and in becoming a warrior for Christ join me on the Battle Field.
God Bless my brother,