Five Things You Just Don’t Say Over the VHF

Be careful and respectful when you use the VHF airwaves.

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Captains have the responsibility to be respectful and professional over the VHF radio. Act like you’ve been there before. Jim Hendricks / Sport Fishing

VHF radios are useful tools, and not just for safety reasons. They’re also good to quickly and efficiently communicate with other folks on the water. Monitoring radio traffic can help anglers get a general idea of what’s going on with the fleet, who is catching and who isn’t, and which anglers are having success. But there are some who regularly abuse their VHFs, and that sort of thing can quickly ruin a good vibe.  We’re all out there to fish, to have a good time, to chill, to not think about work, politics or morons. So here’s a short list of things that anglers should avoid saying over the radio.  

Don’t Burn Fishing Spots Over the Radio

KEEP YOUR SPOTS UNDER WRAPS. Never say you’re “crushing them” at such-and-such area. If you’re offshore and you give your coordinates over the radio, you’re clearly not very smart. You want to kill a bite real quick? Invite the entire fleet. Because it’s awesome when three dozen boats zoom in at 45 knots and start trolling 12-rod spreads through busting fish. Likewise, don’t tell your buddy to switch to the “secret” channel, so you can share numbers over that one. Because, newsflash, most people actually know how to use the SCAN function on their radios. There are certainly ways to share information with your buddies discreetly, like with a cell phone if you are in range. If you’re not, satellite communicators like the Garmin inReach 2 are worth their weight in gold. Or, have your VHF programmed, so you have use of those extra channels that no one really monitors. While yes, radios are for communicating with your buddies, they certainly aren’t for burning spots.  

No Politics on the VHF Radio

AVOID POLITICS. No one cares about your dumb-ass political beliefs, so don’t share them over the radio unless your intent is to irritate at least 50 percent of the fleet. (Note, some people who do this clearly enjoy irritating people, which, to be clear, is not a good trait.) You certainly aren’t going to change anyone’s mind with uneducated blather. All you’re doing is showing what a moron you are.  

No One Laughs at Your Jokes

DON’T EMBARRASS YOURSELF. No matter how slow the fishing is, we certainly don’t want to hear your racist comments or jokes. The folks I fish with are ethnically and racially diverse, and many times there are young kids on board. While I don’t want to say it’s often, more than once I’ve had to shut the radio off altogether. I know, the folks making those comments and jokes don’t really care. But I’m certain those people wouldn’t say those sorts of things to anyone’s face. It’s embarrassing. For you, for us, for everyone.  

Quit the Tough Guy Bravado

NO TRASH TALK. Don’t talk smack over the radio. I know you don’t want to fight me, or anyone else.  Saying that you’re gonna kick someone’s ass because they got too close to your coveted “way-back” over the radio is ridiculous. We know and you know that you’re not gonna do anything, and more importantly, that you’re a coward who likes hiding behind a radio.

Fishing is for Families, Kids Are Listening

KEEP IT CLEAN. Come on man, don’t cuss like a sailor over the radio. Like I said, kids are out there listening. It’s classless. Dropping an F-bomb here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world, but some of the stuff the weekend crowd pollutes the airwaves with would make even the saltiest sailors blush.  Cuss amongst your shipmates to your heart’s desire, but there’s no reason to do it over the radio.  

In the end, it’s common sense. Be considerate of other folks, and respect everyone’s perspectives. Or, just be an a-hole and annoy everyone that happens to have their radio on. That’s fine too. See how many friends that makes you on the water. 

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