Should Anglers Bring Dogs to Public Fishing Spots?

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Sounds silly, but there are very few topics these days that divide our ranks into camps like the subject of dogs on the river. I know some people who wouldn't even think of fishing without their four-legged sidekick. And I know others who think dogs are meant for hunting, and it's downright rude to other anglers to bring a dog on public water.

I see it from both sides. I do fish with my dog Reba now and then. But only when I know I'm the only one on the river. And she's an old graybeard now with a very short coat. She doesn't like splashing around in cold water. She'd just as soon stand up on the bank and look at the birds. Several years ago, she'd run around after those birds, but over time, we struck an understanding of what "sit" "whoa" and "stay" mean. I actually think fishing with my dog made her a better field dog.

And there's something about a really good boat dog--the kind that will curl up under the poling platform of a skiff, or in a designated spot in a drift boat, and barely make a peep. Actually, you can learn a lot about fishing by watching how deliberate and observant some dogs are. Frankly there are some people I'd trade for certain dogs when it comes to sharing a boat.

Then again, assuming that everyone else on the river wants your slobbering, panting, splashing dog around, especially if you can't keep him or her under control is a party foul. Yet here in Colorado, it seems like some folks assume that having a black lab running up and down the riverbank is almost a prerequisite for fishing in the first place. And is there anything more annoying than having the peace and solitude of the river shattered when you get barked at by someone's dog?

It seems to me that the rule books are thick enough already, and common sense should carry the day. But sometimes it helps to talk about it. You might be surprised to learn what your fishing buddies really think about your dog.