User Groups

Learn the layout of the flat before trying to fish it from a poling skiff. Take time before you go to understand how to easily enter, fish and then exit an area. 

Factor in time and wind conditions to plan your easy entry and exit. When possible, avoid running or motoring far onto flat before you start poling. If you pole onto a flat, be prepared to pole back out if there’s not a deepwater exit or channel on the other end. Poling in, then spinning up and running out, can be just as disturbing as running straight in. 

When you’ve poled to the edge of a flat to leave, turn your boat perpendicular to the flat and motor directly away from it. Don’t run along the edge of the flat when you leave.

Use the required lights when paddling in the dark and wear bright clothing or hats. When motorized craft approach, you should assume that they do not see you and make an effort to be seen. Wave your arms or paddle to get their attention. 

Boats powered by paddlers can cover water much more quickly than anglers that are wading then those wading, drifting or poling. On a crowded flat, you should consider these speed differences and make sure that you are not cutting off other users. 

Give other anglers a wide berth (200 yards if possible) when paddling to or from a fishing spot. 
Even though you don’t have a motor, you can still spook their fish if you get too close. If you paddle an area for something other than fishing (e.g. birding or sightseeing) be aware that many may be trying to fish, and give them adequate space and quiet. Be aware of waterfowl seasons and stay well clear of duck blinds with decoys.

When possible, avoid running your boat up on the flat to begin a wade. Anchor on the edge of the flat and then wade into the fish. 

When you have finished wading, turn your boat perpendicular to the flat and motor directly away from it. Avoid running along the edge of the flat when you leave. 

Make yourself easily visible to boaters by wearing a brightly colored shirt or hat.


Everybody loves an airboat ride; it is a fun and exciting way to move across the water. However, these rides can be very disturbing to other anglers. While motoring up small creeks and backwater lakes, airboats often have difficultly seeing wade fisherman, kayaks and other low-profile watercraft in the marsh.

While running your airboat, please be very observant and cautious motoring through areas that other fisherman are likely to be present and hard to see.

Avoid “burning” the flat, joyriding, or taking short cuts through the marsh. Understand how to easily enter and exit the back lakes before you go fishing or hunting.

Airboats can be heard from a great distance away. Other user groups should make every effort to become visible as soon as possible by standing high or waving paddles to alert the airboat pilot of your presence.

Avoid joyriding and taking short cuts through shallow flats. A large source of complaints among Texas bay anglers is the practice of “burning” flats and shorelines by shallow draft boaters in an effort to locate fish. 

Whenever possible shut down your main motor; then wade, drift, pole or troll so that you minimize damage and disturbance. This provides a better, more sustainable, fishing environment for all.

Shallow flats have become a popular venue for guiding and professional fishing tournaments. It is easy to forget, while involved in a professional tournament for cash prizes, pre-fishing, or while guiding an expensive charter, that all users have equal rights to our bay waters. 

By virtue of your professions, you have the opportunity to teach and influence a large number of anglers that book your charters and follow the tournaments that you fish. Make sure that you convey the right message with your actions, endorsements, and promotions.

Tournament rules that pertain to etiquette during the tournament should also be voluntarily applied to the pre-fishing period prior to the event.