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Boating ettiquette for non-boaters....

by: John Stevens 6/28/2013
With summer in full swing, many of us hopefully are fishing a lot!  Here are some tips, observations, and common courtesies for both shore fisherman and boaters alike when sharing a boat ride together.

For much of my life, I have been a shore fisher, with occasional boat trips with friends who had boats.  The last few years however, I have a boat and fish from it a lot.  Buying and maintaining a boat and friendships at the same time can be difficult.  These past few years, I have observed and noticed several things which I want to share with everyone to make everyone's experience more enjoyable!

 Always be on time when you are meeting someone to go on their boat!  There is nothing worse than waiting for an hour or even longer because someone overslept or is late.  You just know that if you were on the water, the bite would be good!

. Know your limitations.  By that, I mean don't offer to back the truck and trailer down the ramp to load or unload the boat if you have never done it before, or lack confidence in it!  Most boaters have a routine that they use to get on or off the water, and while help is most of the time welcomed, sometimes it is better to not have it.

 Always ask the boater what there is room tackle and rod wise for you to bring.  Not all boats are built the same, and space can be at a premium.  If you have 4 huge duffel bags full of gear, that may be an issue in a 12 foot rowboat. I for one have technique specific rods that I will have in the boat depending upon what the plan is for the day.  Trolling, drop shotting, casting, jigging, even fly rods. At any time any or all of these rods may be in the boat.  Likewise, if my shore buddy doesn't have the necessary gear with him that the fish are biting, I share with him from my own gear.

 Boaters, have patience with your shore fishing buddy.  They are not as familiar with your boat, boating terms, or rules of the water as you are.  Explain the safety equipment, and emergency instructions in case something bad does happen.

I have found when I was offered boat rides, that I asked if there was anything I could bring.  Coffee, donuts, breakfast sandwiches were always welcomed and appreciated.

Everything in a boat has a purpose.  Wires, boxes, batteries, rod holders, etc... not everything is an armrest, or foot rest.  Please ask before you move anything, and certainly don't disconnect anything!

Always ask before bringing alcohol on board.  I do not drink in my boat, but as long as it's reasonable, and follows the lake rules, I don't mind it.  Also always ask before smoking or chewing in a boat as well.  Remember , this is someone's investment of money, time and energy.

I have found it extremely helpful to communicate with my buddy before the trip. That way we both have an understanding of the plan for attack, what fish we are targeting, how we are going to do it.

When you have the front (bow) of the boat, the expectation is that you have the front of the boat to fish from.  Shoulder to shoulder and straight ahead, 180 degrees.  Not 240, 300, or 360 degrees!  You get to the fish first, and have first crack at them.  Please leave and respect the man in the backs fishing space as well.  Likewise, remember also that you are not on shore with nothing behind you!  Always be aware of your back motion when casting, what or who you may hook! I have had near misses from friends in the front of the boat many times!

The last thing.. we all know that things wear out and break.  If you break something, or it breaks while you are using it, please let the boater know.  Things do happen from time to time.

Having friends to fish with is awesome and fun.  But, there are times when I just want to fish alone in my boat.  Explore new techniques, new waters, new spots without having to worry whether my partner is catching any fish.  Don't take offense if I say no, when you ask for a ride, I may just want to fish alone that trip.

All of these things are mostly common sense, but they can sometimes be taken for granted as well.  Using these common courtesies myself has resulted in every trip being a fun and enjoyable time, and I was always welcomed back aboard again!

Feel free to add any additional tips, and as always your comments are welcomed!

Good fishing!

Blog content © John Stevens
Member comments
fishingfreak, CO   6/28/2013 6:37:42 AM
Nice Blog!. Shoulda added a few things about just boaters and shore fisherman issues, The other day I went to cherry creek and ths guy and his family in a fishing boat who weren't even fishin goes around the lake 3-4 times and by the last time he got so close, and dared to ask if I caught anything. I could of hooked him with my lure....that did it and scared the fish away which made me go home too, but karma got to him, he got too close to a sand bar and next thing you know he's stuck.....
Jimi, CO   6/28/2013 7:25:40 AM
John, Don't forget about ettiquette at the BOAT RAMP... especially during busy times... A) Don't work on Your boat at the RAMP. B) Be READY to launch OR retrieve when at the ramp, don't be loading your gear or coolers or toys ON THE RAMP... GET it loaded BEFORE backing down to the ramp. C) Load and UNLOAD as quick as YOU CAN.. DON'T LOLLYGAG at the ramp. D) Read the COAST GUARD RULES about proper proceedure at the ramp. SHOULD BE MANDATORY WHEN YOU PURCHASE A BOAT. E) Give a hand to anyone who might need it... BE COURTEOUS.... especially when weather becomes a factor.
JKaboom, CO   6/28/2013 8:12:06 AM
That is anexcellent ettiquette BLOG that will really help a lot of people, myself included!!! Thank you Tiny :)
bratfish, CO   6/28/2013 9:33:24 AM
and dont forget about boating distances from other boats and passing. ive had several dayboaters not understand passing another boat.... something that simple....
Coyute, CO   6/28/2013 9:41:15 AM
Good blog. If you ever need a net man you know where to find me. :)
Raskal, CO   6/28/2013 10:58:47 AM
Good blog. Every passenger should read it.
pbs, CO   6/28/2013 11:53:46 PM got that right! You and Jimi nailed it! So many times I have witnessed and dealt with such idiots at CC when it came to the boat ramps.
kicker, CO   6/29/2013 7:36:54 AM
All good points that I wish more people would observe.
CACHEM ALL, CO   6/29/2013 8:28:27 AM
How about some ettiguette for boaters, belly boaters and other water craft for shore fisherman.
FISHRANGLER, CO   6/29/2013 9:19:18 AM
Very good blog.
Fishful Thinker, CO   6/30/2013 9:56:59 AM
Great topic, Tiny. All good points. I'd add to keep your shoed feet off the fiberglass and seats. Gelcoat scratches and torn upholstery never make boaters happy...CL
Walleyeone, CO   6/30/2013 10:29:03 AM
Excellant blog Tiny. I would add that sometimes people break things or lose them. Some people will replace or offer to replace them. I usually just say it's ok or don't worry about it. If I let you use a lure and you get hung up and we have to break it off, oh well but if you throw a rod over the side or break something from shear neglect then you should at least offer to pay for it. I have a good friend that accidently broke a line counter of mine.I told him not to worry about it and that it was old and brittle (like me). The next time we went out he brought a brand new one with him. I was a little upset with him for buying it but was also very impressed by his ideals and thanked him very much. On another note, if you buy a boat take the time to learn how to back it up. It's not hard to learn, I taught my wife in less than an hour in a empty parking lot. Also for the first few times I put a talkabout radio in the boat and one in the truck so I could guide her down the ramp.
John Stevens
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