If you’ve been surfing for any length of time, you know there’s a delicate balance between surfers and others who are also enjoying the ocean’s bounty, notably fishermen.

For the most part, surfers peacefully co-exist with those wetting a line from the local jetties and piers. We understand the importance of steering clear of their fishing zones and, in turn, most fishermen don’t purposefully aim their casts toward surfers in the lineup.

But every now and then, that balance is disrupted. A surfer will paddle under — or through — a fishing line or an aggressive fisherman will continue to cast into the lineup in the direction of surfers bobbing in the water.

Lately, surfers have been fortunate to have the opportunity to surf at the 91st Street Fishing Pier during some of the best wave days of the past year. Between the big Hurricane Michael swell in mid-October through last week, there have been a handful of “epic” days at the pier.

If you’re going to paddle out at the 91st street pier — or really any jetty for that matter— just remember to respect the fishermen who are also sharing the ocean. Here’s a few tips for surfers who might have forgotten their manners when surfing next to a pier or jetty:

• Don’t paddle through the zone where fishermen have cast their lines. Instead, give those fishing on a pier or jetty a wide berth until you get well into the lineup (and usually outside the zone where people have cast) and then move into position where the waves are breaking.

• Be respectful of the people who are enjoying a day of fishing from a pier or jetty. They have just as much of a right as you to be there and don’t need obscenities or attitudes hurled their way.

• Share waves with others in the water. The take-off zones at piers tend to be much smaller than the other breaks up-and-down the seawall, so remember to take your turn among those in the lineup.

For the most part, our surf crew is a well-behaved bunch. In fact, on days when I’ve been at the pier recently, everyone has generally shared waves free of drama. It’s been a positive and stoke-filled experience that makes surfing so magical.

But it only takes one bad apple to upset the balance that has been achieved after many years of work. Don’t be that bad apple.


Congratulations to Billy “BillyBlues” Hill on the newly redesigned g-townsurf.com website. Most surfers along the upper Texas coast depend on Hill’s daily surf report (and the live-streaming video cameras) to find out about surf conditions in Galveston. The new site, which provides a much cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing overall visitor experience, was designed by island surfer Zach Toth.

Stephen Hadley is a longtime surfer who lives and works in Galveston. If you have an idea for this column, email him at stephendhadley@gmail.com.

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