A Father’s Advice to us all

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there in Blogland.

Today we celebrate the institution of Fatherhood. Hooray for Father’s.

Today a plea for boat ramp courtesy from a Father in the local neighborhood. We agree Josh. We can all do better on the water and at the boat ramps. Common courtesy is good. Politeness is good. Get in and get out. Effeicently and with pace.

Thanks Josh for the letter. And Happy Father’s Day to you!

Howdy. You guys have the most viewed website for the Mo. Perhaps you would consider using my story below for a blog post. Ignorance is out of control lately:

I spend a lot of time on the Missouri. Not as much as some, but more than most. I live in Cascade. I use the river to hunt, exercise my dogs, fish, float with family and friends, and I guide. Over the last few years courtesy has seriously deteriorated at fishing access sites. Part of the problem is innocent ignorance by new users and out of towners. I can generally forgive that and don’t mind helping or giving a word of advice when people seem receptive to it. I do think the river community should try and provide some education on boat ramp etiquette to folks whenever possible. What I have a hard time forgiving is when people that should know better fail to be courteous at ramps and on the river.

I took my 7 year old daughter fishing this morning. Since we normally only stay out a couple hours I often launch my drift boat at a ramp where I can go up stream and do row-arounds for a while rather than float. As always I pulled off to the side of the parking area to rig rods and prep the boat for launch. As we were getting ready a couple guys from out of state backed down the ramp with float tubes in the back of a truck. They unloaded right on the ramp and proceeded to rig rods and prep while blocking the entire ramp. A guide with his clients and I patiently waited for them to clear out so that we could launch. Eventually they moved and I launched, anchored off to the side, parked the truck, and was rowing away from the ramp in under 5 minutes. My daughter and I enjoyed about an hour and a half on the river before we headed back to the ramp. The ramp itself was empty of trailers and trucks but both sides were blocked. The left side of the ramp was occupied by a father and son preparing a raft. The raft was in the water and anchored. Coolers, oars, and other equipment were spread out all over the shore as they seemed to be contemplating fly selection. The right side of the ramp was blocked by a guide boat that had anchored just to the side of the ramp with the boat parallel to the shore. The guide and his clients were rearranging gear, rigging rods, and eating snacks. Luckily there is a good bit of gentle current in the eddy below the ramp that allowed me to easily hold the boat in place while I waited. With the flows at 11800cfs most of the shoreline had a steep drop off. It was going to be tough for me to find a shallow spot to anchor and I wasn’t about to ask my 7 year old to jump onto shore and hold the boat while I got out. Surely the folks on the ramp would be courteous and move so I could land. After 10 minutes or so of holding the boat I was getting frustrated and decided to beach off to the side of the raft. I backed into the shore and dropped anchor but had to jump out into hip deep water. The dad at the raft tried to help, but I was already out and secured my anchor on shore. I got my truck and trailer and backed down the ramp with barely enough room to miss the oars of the guide boat and the raft’s scattered gear. I had to row out around the anchored raft and wedge in between it and my trailer in order to jump out of my boat and secure the strap. One of the guide’s clients got a clue at this point and tried to help me load my boat. I didn’t say much besides a curt thank you but I was steaming on the inside. I pulled away and off to the side to secure my boat and seriously considered walking back down to have words with these guys, but thought better of it. I’m writing this now because I want to remind everyone that courtesy doesn’t cost a cent and improves everyone’s experience on our river.

As I mentioned earlier I don’t mind giving people that obviously don’t know better the benefit of the doubt. This just shows a need for education. However, those of us that spend lots of time on the river and especially guides and outfitters need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. You don’t have to listen in on many bar room conversations to hear someone complain about guides, outfitters, and all the pressure on the river. Anything that serves to divide the ranks of river users can only harm everyone’s enjoyment of our resource.

Here is a few gentle reminders to help us all respect our fellow floaters and get more enjoyment out of our days on the Mo:

Park somewhere out of the way to do all your boat prep before backing onto the ramp.
Move your boat far enough from the ramp to allow others to launch and land while you park your truck and trailer.

If you want to sit in your boat to rig rods and prep other gear, row a little way from the ramp and drop anchor to do it.

Courtesy is free. Be conscious that your actions can affect others.

Josh Schrecengost
Cascade Resident
Licensed Guide

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8 Comments.

  • I read and agree with everything the gentleman said above on his Fathers Day outing. One line jumped out at me and I also believe it to be true 90% of the time, “Part of the problem is innocent ignorance by new users and out of towners”. So, in believing that to be true, my only suggestion is that rather than going through all you did today to get in and out of the river today and getting upset maybe some of your frustration could have been alleviated by asking those on the ramp to help you out. Again, I too believe most of these visitors to your home waters just don’t get it, but, if they are asked (in a sensitive, or humorous way) to clear the way for others, I have found they usually wake up and realize there are other people on the planet. A common response is” oh crap, sorry I just wasn’t thinking”! Worth try and hopefully problem solved……………………

  • Yes, as a father who is in the process of purchasing my first drift boat I am extremely worried about river etiquette. Mostly because I don’t know what I don’t know. Some people are good guys (like the author of this article), some people/guides are total assholes. The nice guys need to speak up more, and the assholes need to keep more to themselves. I guess it’s a fine line at times. Like most communication in life, the same thing can be said in many many ways (some help the situation, some hurt). Great message though, thanks.

    • Perfect Brad S. Agree 100%. You are the type of fella who will learn quickly. Just commenting on said subject lets us know you will do the right thing!

  • Signage at the launch sites can help too.
    When folks rent boats read the courtesy rules to them when they sign the agreement.

  • Matt Hanist
    June 19, 2017 9:05 pm

    I am an eastern fly angler. I’ve owned a Hyde Low Profile drift boat since 1999. I live in PA and fish the main stem Delaware River and the West Branch Delaware River 3 days a week from April to October. I see similar issues with people who should know better rigging rods and preparing boats on the ramp instead of off to the side prior to dropping the boat. In PA it is illegal to block ramps to do the prep work to put in or take out. Signage is clearly visible at all Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission ramps.

    I have been visiting the Missouri every summer for the last twenty years. I leave a Frameless pontoon boat at the lodge where I stay all year. The owner is very gracious to let me store my boat in his garage. My partner and I strap our boats to the top of the rental vehicle. We are able to off load the two pontoons, and all the gear, rods, coolers, oars, anchors, in no more than two minutes. Put everything on the apron of the ramp and park the car. Come back load the boats and be under way without hindering anyone’s ingress to the ramp in another two minutes.

  • JIM SCHILLING
    June 20, 2017 12:58 pm

    Thanks to you Josh for taking the time to remind us all just how important river etiquette is on any river, but especially on a river as beautiful and busy as the Missouri ! Thanks also for keeping your cool and not making an already bad situation even worse . You are a gentle giant with mighty big arms and an even bigger pen ! Happy Fathers Day Josh !!

  • Ok, while we are on the subject. Blocking the ramp while preparing to fish, select flies, construct a raft from parts or one of a hundred other activities is indeed a nuisance but… loose dogs and much worse unattended children is a serious problem which I think people should pay close attention to. On
    more than one occasion I have witnessed close calls that others seem to not appreciate. Perhaps more signage and self policing is in order. Thanks.

  • Joshua Schrecengost
    June 21, 2017 7:58 pm

    Thanks to Mark and HH for giving me a voice. Thanks to all who commented and all the anonymous readers for taking a few minutes to read and think about courtesy. Have a great summer!

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