Fighting Fishermen

By definition, all anglers are looking for a fight. But most hope to throw down with fish--not with fellow fishermen. Nonetheless, with big crowds and fast action, the line between excitement and aggression has been smeared by several recent incidents of rod rage:

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: Tangled lines at lower Ship Creek escalated into tangling salmon fishermen last July, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Angry at a 54-year-old angler who cut his line, a reportedly "aggressive" 16-year-old punched the man in the teeth, clutched him in a bear hug, and pulled him into the water.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA: According to the Associated Press, an altercation recently broke out on the Ohio River when a group of shore anglers, including some children, complained to the driver of a personal watercraft that he was splashing them. In response, the rider dismounted his Jet Ski, marched over to the anglers, slugged one of them, and drove off.

BOCA GRANDE PASS, FLORIDA: An ongoing clash between bait and jig fishermen at this tarpon hotspot came to a head this summer. "We've had instances of verbal altercations, a report of one angler intentionally running over the line of another who was playing a fish, and a few complaints of boaters throwing large wakes at each other," says Maj. Bruce Hamlin, regional commander for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement. But Hamlin doesn't think authorities should have to baby-sit anglers. "We don't want to regulate moral issues between fishermen," he says. "They should be able to get along." --DAVE HURTEAU