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Boat Guest Etiquette?

by: Lloyd Tackitt 6/4/2014
I had a rare opportunity this past weekend to fish from a boat.  Rare because I haven't fished from a boat in thirty something years, if you don't count my kayak.  It was a great treat and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My host, Dave Coulson, is as nice a fellow as you'll ever meet.  We got along well.  But as I entered the boat for the first time I realized that I was ignorant of boat guest etiquette.  I had no real idea of what was okay and what wasn't.  I asked Dave what were the do's and don'ts and he told me it would be good to maintain situational awareness since both of us would be fly casting close together.  

He kind of ended up telling me that, in a very nice way, two or three times as I would get zoned out on what I was doing and not pay attention to what he was doing and hence crossed lines, two or three times.  But I got better at that (awareness that is,  not better at crossing lines) and even got good at it towards the end.  I even learned to know where he was in his cast just by listening.

That's all I can recall that he told me.  One thing I discovered is that on any future trips I will take toilet paper with me.  I had an unusual urgent need while we were on the back side of the lake.  I felt the cramps and knew not to ignore them.  Dave graciously ran us back to the marina on double quick time and I did make it to the relief room, but just in the nick of time.  Fortunately this wasn't during the tournament hours.  Had I had paper with me I could have gotten off just about anywhere and found some privacy in the bushes.  I would have gotten relief a lot sooner, and we wouldn't have wasted time or gas running back across the lake.  Lesson learned.

I also learned that it is a good idea to carry some rain gear along with me.  I didn't even think about it.  It rained on us a few times, twice it rained hard and I got soaked.  Fortunately it was warm rain and I actually enjoyed the sensation of being out on a lake getting rained on.  But had it been a cold rain I would have been completely miserable and there would have been no shelter of any kind short of the marina again, and even that wouldn't have worked as running at speed through heavy rain just makes things worse and could be dangerous to boot.

So, that's three things I learned - situational awareness, carry toilet paper, bring rain gear - and I'm sure there are a dozen more that I need to know and that Dave was probably too polite to mention.  

It would be tremendously useful to non-boaters like me if you experienced boaters will share this kind of information, lessons learned type things and just plain need to know information.  

What as a boat owner do you want from a guest?  What do you want your guest to bring?  How do you want your guest to conduct himself?

And you as an experienced guest, what do you think  is appropriate conduct?  What have you learned to bring with you?  What are the do's and don'ts?

Looking forward to what I hope are many replies!  I have a lot to learn here, and I appreciate your help in that endeavor.
Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Member comments
anglerwannabe, CO   6/4/2014 9:33:24 AM
always have a little gas money, running a boat all day is expensive. Always bring a little something for the skipper. Beer, bourbon or snack. consider having your own PFD, this makes sure you have one that fits and maybe there isn't an extra on board. Make sure you have water. Have a hat or cap to protect your head from the sun and to shade your eyes.
sgtk, CO   6/4/2014 10:26:40 AM
Remember to bring lure wraps!!! They protect you boater’s seats and prevent nasty tangles in the rod lockers and protect you from getting snagged in the arm, hip or butt on high speed runs across the lake
Ajax5240, CO   6/4/2014 11:30:10 AM
Some people will take gas money, others will not as they look at it like part of the invite they extended. Personally, I am happiest when someone shows up with some good beer, or good snacks. The tastier the better, someone that went out of their way to bring something that is a real 'treat' has a high chance of a repeat invite. My other suggestion is that while being prepared for a day on the water is a very important thing, don't bring every single piece of fishing gear you own out on my boat. We may feel the effect more as I only have a 16' boat, but tripping over a guests stuff all day will drive you nuts. If you take a lure out of a box, but the box back on your tackle bag, not leave stuff spread out all over the boat. Lastly, if we have been enjoying a few canned beverages while out on the lake, pick up the cans/trash while you are gathering your things. Nothing would put a smile on my face more than getting home with my boat, and realizing that my guest removed all the trash. A hand shake and a sincere 'thank you' always goes a long way even if its your 20th time on my boat.
lvrider, CO   6/4/2014 12:38:17 PM
I like to bring extra green if ya know what I mean ) all of the other comments covered everything else I can think of. I like to have a fishing bag for lures etc and a backpack for food and extra layers rain suit. I try to always put my lures back in the case and in the bag. Offering to let the captain test out any lures you have they don't might float their boat as well.
Ryan, CO   6/4/2014 12:58:39 PM
Ajax hit the nail on the head. I would agree on your comment about TP, but to be used in the event that the restroom doesn't have it. I for one object to someone doing their business hiding behind a tree. You aren't in the middle of nowhere when fishing here. I can't imagine what our lakes would be like if everyone does as you suggest.
Ajax5240, CO   6/4/2014 3:25:20 PM
One more thing I messed, PRACTICE YOUR CASTING!!!!! Fishing lures out of trees and rocks all day, and untangling crossed and tangled lines gets old really quick! It happens to all of us from time to time, but practice never hurts. Pay attention to your back cast, trebles hurt...
sportrider, CO   6/4/2014 4:32:12 PM
I'd keep it simple, odds are if you received an invite you talked, p.m.ed (whatever) ask before hand what you need to bring, I have enough pfd's for the max capacity of my boat, I wouldn't expect someone to bring one. gas for the boat would always be appreciated. I'd rather have someone ask me if they could bring something or needed to bring something then assume there's room for it or I have it covered.
Abel1, CO   6/4/2014 4:52:46 PM
I always tip the guide enough to take himself and significant other out for a nice dinner. After all he showed myself and my wife a good time. When fishing up in Seattle in the rivers if we lost any of the pink or chartreuse flat fish we would pick some up and send it to them to replenish the stock. (In fact it may not be a bad thing to take along a couple just in case as a nice gesture). Your guides can become your best friends. Keep in touch with them.
Attila64, TX   6/4/2014 7:52:51 PM
Have fun, share a good story or 10 and be yourself.
Tiny Stevens, CO   6/4/2014 8:00:39 PM
Lloyd, Here's a few tips from my Blog about this... Always ask before smoking, chewing, or drinking alcohol in the boat. Some guys don't mind and others do. Be careful where you put your feet, not everything is a footrest or armrest. Things do break, if you see something break or is broken, point it out. Your boater should... show you where the pfd and throwables are. Should show you the basics of navigating and running the boat in case there is an emergency. Those are just a couple off the top of my head. Good read! Tiny
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   6/5/2014 10:06:03 AM
Thanks Everyone! A lot of good comments in there.
tbblom, CO   6/5/2014 2:35:18 PM
No muddy, dirty, or sandy feet in the boat. Give em' a dip! People in Florida will kill you for tracking sand in their boats... scratches the finish.
sylvan, CO   6/5/2014 3:31:38 PM
Know what your fishing for and what in general to bring. I have a friend who works at bass pro and owns everything in the store and expects to bring it all. Although I have a 16' deep v boat three large fishing bags a cooler for food and one for leechs and worms is a bit much. He also likes to bring 8 or 10 rods. Room becomes a problem.
jerussell1980, CO   6/5/2014 6:09:20 PM
As a guest at times and the captain others, there are several things. First understand your audience as best as you can. If it is a first invite, absolutely cover your bases and ask if there is anything to bring. It NEVER hurts to at least offer a little gas money. Hauling the boat and going around the lake (especially big lakes like Pueblo) can cost good chunks of money. I will not always take the money, if offered, depending on the situation. Sometimes if my wife is on me about spending money fishing and I take someone out and get them on fish, sure I will take what is offered. Other times, if I know I will be going out on their boat at some time, I will consider my ride on my boat, the repayment for their ride on their boat. I agree about the rods. If I am a guest, 2 rods max. one for lures/trolling, one for slip bobber/ jigging. All avenues are covered. Lets face it, we all want to be as accomodating as we can, both ways, but reality is we can't so be respectful and considerate. Chances are you will get asked again. I personally just love company on the boat. My really good friend John though, we have a rolling $10bill that we just hand each other when we go out... it is pretty funny. We are trying to see how many trips we exchange "gas" money on the same 10 until the bill just wears out... No matter what, enjoy any chance someone offers to get you out on their boat. I have appreciated every time someone took me out. Most have become good friends. Tightlines Jason
JohnsFishing, CO   6/9/2014 11:16:42 AM
Just so happens I have experienced most of these things. When I invite you out on my boat (17ft tracker) I provide all the things that I feel is needed. If you want to bring your own food, drink (no Alcohol) and tackle it's fine with me. Providing that it is not going to be in the way. I know many guys have a special Rod they like and that's okay. As Tiny states: I will show you the basics of navigating and running the boat in case there is an emergency. Gas, food, and normally Bait I will provide, I would never ask for money for anything and never take it. This was a great Read Mr Tackitt.
bones72, CO   6/9/2014 11:59:00 AM
I always offer to pay for gas. If riding to the lake in the hosts boat gas for his vehicle as well. I always bring lunch for the host too. I am always prepared for the conditions and whatever type of fishing we are planning on doing. Be mindful of the hosts setup ie if his trolling motor is in the stern watch that your line does not tangle in it. If bait fishing I bring the bait, I also research what type of bait works best at that particular body of water leeches, crawlers, minnows etc.... . If trolling for eyes I bring extra snells for the host if my spinners are working and his are not getting bit then it pays to give him what you have. Same goes for flies if fly fishing. For those that fly fish I always bring some flies I have tied even if that is not what we are doing. As I said before be prepared for the conditions. Hat and sunscreen, rain gear light jacket. You do not want your boat owner having to cater to your misery. In aside to that keep it neat. your host should not have to worry about your stuff getting in the way. Don't mess with any of the hosts gear unless you can replace it. My rule of thumb is if I cannot afford it I don't touch it. Do not discuss sensitive subjects, politics, religion or bring up war stories ( I'm a vet and learned not everyone wants to hear it). Keep discussions to shared interests. Never leave trash behind. That's not just soda cans and the like. Also if you are smoker refrain from the habit. Burns in carpet and the like can spoil a possible friendship and boat asset I fish with a partner on occasions and he has a boat and even though we have been fast friends for years now I remember these things when we are out on his boat. Heck I bring my own battery for the trolling motor from my canoe as it is brand new and his are a little older.
Lloyd Tackitt
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