It's the beginning of the saltwater season, and that means boaters of every stripe and color, from neophytes to veterans, will be descending on South Louisiana's many coastal marinas.

Marina operators will welcome them with open arms. After all, these cash-plunking anglers put food on the tables of anyone who works for or owns a marina.

But marina operators don't exactly have the world's easiest life. They get up early and work late, and this time of year that means spending hour after hour in the blazing summer sun.

Exhaustion is often the enemy of patience, and more than one angler has met a marina operator's wrath after doing something stupid at the end of a long day.

So here's a top 10 list of what to do if you really want to draw that wrath this summer.

No. 10 — Throw your bag full of bait shrimp into the marina garbage can.

This gets under the skin of Boudreaux's Marina owner Andre Boudreaux.

He said anglers returning to his Dulac marina occasionally fail to dispose of their bait shrimp before trailering their boat.

Rather than walking to the edge of the bayou and dumping the shrimp into the water, the anglers throw the whole bag into the garbage can.

"Not too long after that, you can't even walk by a garbage can, the smell is so bad," Boudreaux said.

The marina owner obviously encourages patrons to dispose of the plastic bag holding the shrimp in the marina garbage cans, but the shrimp should be taken home and fried or dumped into the water.

 

No. 9 — Forget to bring your bait bucket when you go to buy live bait.

Unless you've got extraordinarily big hands and can hold a lot of bait, bring a bucket or ice chest or something to hold what you purchase.

If your marina operator is kind enough to loan you a bucket, be sure to return the bucket after you dump the bait into your livewell.

Leaving it on the dock means somebody else eventually has to pick it up, and it may not be handy for the next forgetful angler who leaves his bucket at home.

 

No. 8 — Ignore the plentiful garbage cans, and throw your trash wherever you want to at the marina.

Mike Perry of Hopedale's Breton Sound Marina says that litter bugs can be a problem around a launch site.

"(I) see this all the time: People break their ice, dump it into the ice chest and just throw their bag over the side. Not only does it look trashy, but if it's dark and somebody runs over that bag it could cover their water intake and burn up their engine," he said.

To make trash disposal easier, Perry and his partner, Doody Chaplain, have garbage cans distributed throughout the marina, but some people still apparently find it's too much trouble to walk to one.

 

No. 7 — Park your boat directly in front of the fuel dock while you tend to other matters.

On busy days, marina operators make a significant amount of their money on fuel sales. Little will bug them more than someone who is preventing other anglers from purchasing gas or diesel.

"Even if it doesn't appear that there's anybody in line waiting to buy fuel, you don't really know who's going to come up while you're doing other things," said Johnny Glover, owner of CoCo Marina in Cocodrie.

"You don't want to fill up with gas, and then go up to the restaurant to eat breakfast. Pull up, get your gas, move the boat somewhere else, and then go up to the restaurant."

 

No. 6 — Use your tow vehicle to jump in line upon your return to the marina.

Normal marina etiquette calls for boaters to pick up in the order they arrived at the marina.

If you pull your boat in behind another angler, you don't get to pick up before him just because you got to your car first.

This especially annoys hoist operators. They'll pick up boats in the order they arrived. If a tow vehicle gets out of turn, its driver then has to get out of line and wait until his boat is picked up.

 

No. 5 — Pull up to the landing, and then start unhooking your boat and transferring tackle and ice chests from the bed of your pickup.

This is a common courtesy issue, but it's one that Joe Bourgeois, owner of Lafitte's Joe's Landing, runs into occasionally.

"You should have everything done that you can get done before you pull up to the hoist or the backdown," he said.

Similarly, Bourgeois said, it's courteous to pull away from the launch site before readying your boat and gear for the trip home.

Nothing boils the temper of an awaiting angler like another boater dilly-dallying in the way of the launch.

But, Bourgeois said, anglers who are in line to launch or pick up shouldn't confuse discourteousness with inexperience.

"Some guys can pick up a boat in under a minute, but inexperienced guys are going to take a lot longer than that. You just have to have patience with them," he said.

As far as following the rules of the marina goes, Bourgeois said he politely tells newcomers how the operation works — but just once.

"I explain it to them one time, then the second time I get on their ass," he laughed.

 

No. 4 — Talk as much as possible to the marina staffer while he's counting out your live minnows or shrimp.

Sure, you want to know where the fish are biting, and a marina employee is probably one of the best people in the world you could ask, but while he's counting your bait is not an appropriate time.

You might confuse him into giving you too many minnows or shrimp, but if you aggravate him enough, the opposite just might happen.

Wait until he's done counting your bait, and then ask him — but only if you don't have a long line of people behind you.

 

No. 3 — Run your boat at half speed while you're approaching or leaving the marina.

Lynn Gros, owner of Bobby Lynn's Marina in Leeville, said her customers sometimes confuse idle speed with half speed.

"Running halfway throws more wake than anything. If they stayed on top and blew by the marina at 40 miles per hour, it wouldn't be that much of a problem. But you've got to do one or the other, either idle or run wide open," she said.

Throwing a wake near a marina causes the boats that are being picked up or launched to be pounded against docks, she said.

It also can be dangerous.

"If you're standing up in your boat and a big wake comes by, you'd better hold on quick," she said.

 

No. 2 — Take up as many parking spots as possible with your trailer and tow vehicle.

This is the No. 1 gripe of Capt. Sammie Faulk, operator of Hebert's Marina on the shores of Calcasieu Lake.

"People do all kinds of crazy things when it comes to parking, and I don't have the biggest lot in the world," he said.

What irritates him the most, Faulk said, is when anglers park too far away from the adjacent vehicle in the parking lot.

"They don't want to scratch their door, so if it takes 8 feet to park a truck, they park 7 1/2 feet away from the next truck, just enough that another truck can't fit between them," he said.

Incorrect parking makes life tough for late arrivers to the marina, Faulk said.

"Once one guy parks wrong, it screws up everybody else," he said.

 

No. 1 — Leave without paying your bill.

As a courtesy, many marina operators allow customers to have a running tab for the day, so that they don't have to pay for the launch and bait in the morning and then fuel and drinks on the return.

It's easy to skip out on such a courteous marina operator without paying your bill.

Those anglers who do such might think they've gotten away scott-free, but actually they haven't gone unnoticed.

Marina operators tend to remember those who don't pay them, and if they didn't get you this time, they very well might next time.