How to Pass a Fishing Boat

Geoff Stadnyk in Fishing On The Water on

Are you one of those who still don’t know How to Pass a Fishing Boat? We have all seen it and maybe you’ve even had it done to you. You are peacefully fishing and chilling in your fishing boat when out of nowhere, some oblivious boat almost capsizes your vessel from the wake his boat made when he passes you.

You probably said a few unpleasant words under your breath while trying to make sure he didn’t cut your fishing lines and trying to settle your temper down from the annoyance you feel.

So, did the driver of the boat break any boating laws with his crazy boat driving? And what is the proper way and how to pass a fishing boat?

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What is the Correct Way to Pass a Fishing Boat?

Before passing a fishing boat, you should first wait for the person fishing to signal it is okay to pass over. You will steer to the starboard side or right-hand side of the boat. The side where you are passing each other is the port side or left-hand side of the boat.

If you must pass on the starboard side for some reason, you should first honk once and wait for the boat in question to honk back one honk to signal you to go ahead. When passing on the port side, you should give two short honks and wait for the other boat to respond with two honks.

Pass slowly, so your boat does not cause a big wake and cause the other boater problems.

Do You Have to Give Way to A Fishing Boat?

Man fishing from his fishing boat on the lake at sunset and annoyed from the people are stiill unaware of how to pass a fishing boat

When boating, there is an understood hierarchy to follow about who can pass whom on the water. The captain with the least amount of control over his boat gets priority. Boats that are not fishing or are trolling have to follow the same rules everyone else faces.

The Hierarchy:

  • Sailboats.
  • Fishing boats engaged in fishing.
  • Vessels with restricted navigation.
  • Boats with limited maneuverability because of gear of some kind in the water (This could be fishing gears such as nets, diving equipment, etc.)
  • Uncrewed boats.
  • Boats that are being overtaken by another.

Boats should always pass each other while steering to the right-hand side. This process ensures both boats pass on their port side. The other important thing to remember is to pass going with as little wake as possible and avoid their fishing lines.

These guidelines are the way the coast guard recommends passing a fishing boat. Precede always passing with first alerting the boat captain of the fishing boat that you need to pass and waiting for their response.

Keep in mind that fishing lines can sometimes be out hundreds of yards from the boat in question. Passing on top of fishing lines or nets can lead to the potential for accidents.

Suppose you are on the starboard side of the fishing boat honk at the one honk if you are on the fishing boat’s port side honk twice. Remembering that the starboard is the right side of the vessel and the port is the left is essential when passing fishing boats.

Why is it Important to Follow the Rules?

With the number of people with boats rising on the water, the potential for more accidents has increased. National statistics show that about 700 people die every year in boating accidents.

If you are a captain on a boat, your most important responsibility is to avoid accidents and keep everyone safe. Following navigation rules and keeping your speed within limits will help ensure you can do so. Passing a boat in tight spaces or without proper standards can cause accidents which damage boats or injure people.

What are Some of the Potential Risks of Passing a Fishing Boat?

Elderly man fishing on his fishing boat at lake and annoyed from the people are stiill unaware of how to pass a fishing boat.

One of the potential risks of passing a fishing boat without taking the proper precautions is that you could get caught up in the net if any are out and cause a dragging effect which could cause damage or injuries to both boats and those on board.

If the crew is not prepared for the wake or there were to be a collision, someone might get knocked into the water, causing severe injury or even death.

In Conclusion

Fishing and boating can be great fun and other water activities. Still, it comes to a greater responsibility to do things safely to protect both life and property from potential dangers. Properly and safely passing a fishing boat is just one way we can make sure to stay safer while out on the water.

Remember to always pass by steering to the far right after getting permission from the fishing boat captain to do so. Keep your boat wake to a minimum to not cause potential dangers from the boat rocking back and forth too fast.

Geoff Stadnyk

Geoff started fishing as a child in the gorgeous lakes of Mammoth, while on family vacations. His fishing experience includes the use of fly rod and reel. Guided trips along the Madison and Gallatin rivers in Montana, the Frying Pan and Animus in Colorado, and the Deschutes river in Oregon have all paid off and helped make Geoff the angler and writer that he is today.

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