You don’t have to know me well to know that I love to fish. 

Notice, I didn’t describe myself as a fisherman. Being a “fisherman” means that you have a certain level of expertise that makes you part marine biologist, part Nate Bosch (director of the Center for Lakes and Streams), part meteorologist David Harker, part Jimmy Houston (famous TV fisherman) and part … fish. 

I love to fish. I love to be on the water in the middle of God’s glorious creation. I like feeling a gentle lake breeze on my face as we glide out from the boat ramp. Sappy as it sounds, I really believe that time spent fishing is not about how many you caught or how big they were, but about who you went with and what you did with the time you were out there. 

You have read many times that my father not only taught me how to fish, but he also taught me how to love fishing. 

And for decades, our lakes have been the front lines of a battle. In this battle, there are almost no fatalities and very rarely even injuries — but there is conflict just as sure as crappies eat minnows. 

On one side are the fishermen and women and those who love to fish. On the other side are those who like to go fast on the water. We’re talking about speed boats and Jet Skis and skiers, and a few of you pontoon captains. 

Now, before you get all fired up and defensive, I am not against pleasure and ski boating at all. Quite the opposite, actually. I enjoy a slow stroll around a lake at sunset as much as anyone else. Our lakes are plenty big enough for everyone.

And that’s my point. 

There is no reason at all for any boat of any size or intention to navigate anywhere near a boat anchored in relatively shallow water. None at all. There is nothing more frustrating than to have waves overtake the back of your boat because of someone flying by less than 30 yards away.

And while we (the people who fish) really do understand that waves travel and there is no way to keep your waves from rocking our boats, we would like to ask you to do a few of things for us:

• Stay out in the deeper part of the lake. The fish that most of us want to catch are in less than 20 feet of water. In most of the Kosciusko County lakes where speed boats and the sort are allowed, there is a large area of water more than 20 feet deep out in the middle. If you all stay out there, that gives fisherman plenty of room to do our thing and you can still do all the things you want to do.

• If you need to come closer than 100 feet from a fishing boat, slow way down. While I am not an expert on tubing or Jet Skiing, it would seem to me that you would want to slow down due to the safety issues of falling off your device in shallow water anyway. In shallow water, your waves make our low-profile vessels even more vulnerable to high waves. Take it slow, please. 

• Be aware of your surroundings. This is a common-sense water safety tip no matter what kind of craft you are navigating. You ought to know what vessels are around you, what size they are (the bigger one has the right of way in normal circumstances) and which direction they are headed. 

• Care. The biggest complaint I have, and that I hear from other fishermen, is that when a speeding boat buzzes by us there is little or no show of concern for us. We all understand that your boat probably cost more than ours and it goes a lot faster and creates a bigger wake than ours, but our checks and credit cards pay the DNR fees too and we have equal rights to that body of water. 

In return, we fisherman agree to:

• Wave at you as you pass us, and we’ll use all five fingers in doing so. 

• Not try to cast our fishing lures and hooks into your boats when you get too close. 

• Not pour out our unused red worms and the dirt that comes in the box we bought them in into the back of the truck pulling your trailer on an 85-degree day (there isn’t a car wash in town that can get rid of that foul stench on the first try). 

A large majority of the operators of the speeding boats on our lakes are happy to share that space, and we with them. It only takes one knucklehead to ruin your afternoon or evening, and so I am simply asking “Can’t we all get along?”

And sure, we could create speed limits on all lakes or say that skiing/tubing and those kinds of activities can only happen during certain hours in the middle of the day — but I’m not into that. First, there aren’t enough DNR officers to enforce that. Second, that doesn’t end the dispute … in fact, it creates more tension.

All I am asking for is that you let me find a spot where the fish are, and stay anchored in that spot, without having to dip out water from my boat.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?