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Letter of the Month - Total Sea Fishing Magazine

I read your comments on page 19 of the June issue of Total Sea Fishing, regarding the subject of Fishing for the Boat.  As it was I who raised this issue at a Committee meeting of Dartmouth Angling & Boating Association, I thought I’d better take up your gauntlet.

As you properly explained in your footnote, “Fishing for the Boat” is where the Skipper of a Charter boat, or on some occasions in our area, a commercial net & shell fishing boat, invites local rod and line anglers to go out for a day’s fishing.

The basis of this arrangement is that the fish caught become the property of the Skipper, to sell or dispose of in whatever way he sees fit.  That is the payment for the day out fishing.  It’s good old-fashioned barter.  Sometimes the angler may be allowed to keep a fish for him or her self.

You have to be a very effective angler before you will receive such an invitation.  The purpose of the arrangement is that the invited anglers are there to catch as many fish as is possible in a day on rod and line.  It is no place for “slackers” and occasional pleasure anglers.  Fish market prices for rod and line caught Pollack are far higher than for the net caught variety.

It was brought to my notice that a small proportion of our members were being invited on such trips, but were also wanting to weigh in the best of the fish caught on rod and line in these circumstances, which amount to blatant commercial fishing, for our Club trophies, awarded for categories such as “Heaviest Pollack”; “Best Round Fish”; etc.

I felt this was not within the limits of what most of us consider to be “sport” angling.  Effectively, the rod and line anglers involved are just working as a deckhand on a commercial fishing boat, all be it, using a rod and line instead of a gill net or trammel.

A valid comparison can be drawn with a commercial rod and line bass fisherman, catching his quarry for sale direct to local restaurants.  We would be unwilling to count the fish he caught for our trophy for “Best Bass from a Boat”; or best 3 Bass in a day over 2 lbs each.

I proposed to our Association Committee that we should not weigh in fish caught by members while fishing for the boat and not accept them for consideration of winning our Association trophies.

After reasoned discussion, the DA & BA Committee were unanimous in their acceptance of this proposal.

We are not a crowd of open toed sandal wearing “do gooders”, we fish and have no objection to members taking some fish for their own table.

We also support the catch & release philosophy where fish captured are not wanted for eating.  We look to conserve fish stocks so that we may continue to enjoy our own fishing and hopefully our children will do the same.

I believe it is true to say that we were not trying to tell our members not to fish for the boat, but that if they did so, we would not weigh in fish thus caught, or accept them for our club prize categories.

It was subsequent to our Committee decision that the wider implications started to dawn on us.  For instance, what was the NFSA standpoint on this?  If a member insisted that the Club submit a fish caught while fishing for the boat to the NFSA for a record, or certificate, where did our duties lie?  What were our liabilities in such circumstances?

I spoke with David Rowe at the NFSA who quoted to me their Rule 2.5, which unambiguously states: 


A person who takes fish by means of a rod and line.  The NFSA does not approve of any of its members, other than commercial or professional fishermen, using trawls, trammels, or gill nets for commercial use, or in the selling of their catch.   ACs may expel members so engaged.”

I have received a great deal of correspondence, emails and telephone calls on this subject.  At one stage, there were 25 pages supporting both sides of the argument on our association web site Most of it supported our decision. 

Well, you asked for views on fishing for the boat.  That’s where DA & BA came from.  We appear to have raised this issue far beyond our original vista.

(c) Mike Concannon 2000 

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