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Code of Ethics


The American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and Trout Unlimited all contributed to the development of the new code.

"While the code may seem self evident to some, it was developed with a broad base of angler support, and the final result outlines simple actions that, if practiced by all, will benefit the quality of the angling experience today and for future generations," said Dick Schaefer, chief of the intergovernmental and recreational fisheries office for the Fisheries Service.

The Fisheries Service will provide the code to anglers, fishing clubs, bait and tackle shops and fishing boat operators through a variety of cards, stickers, and posters that promote its use.

The Code of Angling Ethics:


  1. Promotes, through education and practice, ethical behavior in the use of aquatic resources.
  2. Values and respects the aquatic environment and all living things in it.
  3. Avoids spilling and never dumps any pollutants, such as gasoline and oil, into the aquatic environment.
  4. Disposes of all trash, including worn lines, leaders, and hooks, in appropriate containers, and helps to keep fishing sites litter-free.
  5. Takes all precautionary measures necessary to prevent the spread of exotic plants and animals, including live baitfish, into non-native habitats.
  6. Learns and obeys angling and boating regulations, and treats other anglers, boaters and property owners with courtesy and respect.
  7. Respects property rights, and never trespasses on private lands or waters. Keeps no more fish than needed for consumption, and never wastefully discards fish that are retained.
  8. Practices conservation by carefully handling and releasing alive all fish that are unwanted or prohibited by regulation, as well as other animals that may become hooked or entangled accidentally.
  9. Uses tackle and techniques that minimize harm to fish when engaging in "catch and release" angling.

Fly fishing Code of Ethics 

Fly fisherman, LILO, supreme being, fifth element. How you are accepted by fellow anglers may not be high on your list of becoming a fly fisher. However, there are some common courtesy rules that any angler should observe. Being a lady or gentleman has not been emphasized in our culture as it once was. Beyond treating others with respect, there is the very serious matter of treating the resource, the water, banks, woods and all of outdoors with respect so as not to damage it. To leave no mark where we have passed in our fishing adventures is the ultimate respect.

Common rules of courtesy to follow:

  1. A section of water belongs to the first person fishing it. It is inconsiderate to crowd an angler who was there first.
  2. A slow moving or stationary angler has the right to remain where he/she is. If you are moving, leave the water and quietly walk around the angler in position in the water.
  3. If an angler is resting the water, (Allowing the water to calm down after some form of disturbance. Generally, after a fish has been caught, the act of the fight scares the rest of the fish and makes them hesitant to hit on a fly, so you Rest the Water until it is fishable again.) or planning his/her next move, it is his/her water. Don't jump in without permission.
  4. A person working upstream has the right of way over someone fishing downstream.
  5. Always yield to an angler with a fish on the line.
  6. Do not enter the water directly in front of someone already in the water.
  7. Always recognize property rights. Leave all gates as you found them.
  8. Do not litter. If you brought it in, take it out. Leave the area cleaner than you found it.
  9. Try not to make tracks whenever possible.
  10. Wade only when necessary. The aquatic food chain is fragile.
  11. Obey all state and local fishing laws and rules.