With NBOA’s Gulf Coast Open just around the corner, we thought it would be an opportune time to share some tips on how to be a courteous boater around those who are fishing. Many anglers have numerous stories of how boaters have fouled-up their fishing efforts.
Surveys conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard specify that the majority of powerboats are used for fishing at least once in each season, which means most of us aren’t familiar with how to operate our vessels around boats that do fish. Here are some tips to follow around fishing boats.
1. Watch your wake – even a small craft can carve waves capable of causing an anchored or slow-moving boat to pitch and roll dangerously. When approaching an anchored, trolling, or drift-fishing boat you should slowdown to minimum wake speed and swing wide around the boat to allow your wake to disperse before it reaches the vulnerable craft.
2. Look for lines – fishing lines are frequently cast or trolled as far as 100 feet or more from the bow, beam or stern of boats engaged in fishing – another reason to give fishing boats plenty of room. Boats moving slowly with rods sticking out of the transom or off the gunwales may be trolling, or towing baits behind them. Crossing their lines can be detrimental to your engine’s lower unit as well as their sport. It’s best to pass trolling boats across their bow or far astern.
3. Sound savvy – not only do wakes spoil an anglers day, but the sound of an approaching boat, the roar of an engine starting, or loud music can also. Sound travels extremely well both on and in the water, and can spook fish from a surprising distance. To be courtesy of anglers please keep your sounds to a minimum when in the vicinity of those fishing.
4. Survey the Shore – Wakes and sound waves are as disruptive to shore anglers’ as they are to waterborne anglers. When fishermen are wading, wakes can do more than disrupt the fishing; the rogue waves can create a safety hazard. Therefore, it’s important when approaching a shoreline to look and see if anyone is fishing to make sure you don’t cross their lines, cruise through their fishing area, or otherwise make waves that might ruin their fun.
Most importantly anglers, boaters and swimmers alike need to be aware of each other’s activities. This will create a safer and more fun environment everyone enjoying the open water.