How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat


While being on the water, all boats come across other boats coming from the other direction. The most common concern of people boating is “how should you pass a fishing boat? Knowing the answer of this question is really important in order to maintain a safe passage, and avoid collision. Here at Exposed Outdoors we will guide you everything you need to know about how should you pass a fishing boat.

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

You must know the basic rules of the water. The water rules are developed to help the people who like boating, or fishing, in order to maintain safety and avoid accidents. 

Boating and fishing has attracted a lot of people towards great and small lakes, rivers and open shores. Anglers love to go out in poplar fishing spots alone, or with their families to have fun and fish. People take fishing and boating as more than a hobby or a recreational activity. This has become a profession for many, and some people even pick fishing as a way to earn. Government also promotes fishing as it has positive impacts on economy. This has resulted in an increased number of boats in the waters.

This increased number has raised concerns of safety as rising numbers of commute in waters can lead to collision and accidents. There is no defined paths on water, as there are on roads to guide traffic. This is why, there was a need to develop and establish some basic rules for fishing and boating. 

No matter if you are a beginner in fishing and boating, or if you are an experienced angler, knowing these rules is equally important for everyone going out for fishing and boating. When you are out there on the water, knowing these rules can help you prevent any accidents and ensure that you get excellent fishing results. 

Water boating and fishing rules help any angler to think and act carefully in any emergency according to the situation. But before we dive into the basics of how to pass a fishing boat, we must know when we should do it. In simpler words, which situations demand an angler to have the tricks and techniques to pass a fishing boat smoothly? 

Here are some factors which require a captain to pass a fishing boat carefully to avoid collision and accidents. A thing to keep in mind while passing a fishing boat is to always do it keeping in view the control and maneuverability you have on your boat at that time. When these situation arise, the captain has a right and should try to pass a fishing boat to avoid danger. 

  • When a fishing boat is being taken over by another
  • Vessels that have no people on board 
  • Boats that have limited control and moving ability as they have nets or lines in the water
  • Boats which have been surrounded by drafts and they can move to the other way
  • Fishing boats which have been engaged
  • Sailboats 

These factors should be considered as a priority from top to bottom when passing a fishing boat. You must be careful when you are encountered with two of these situation at once, as you might need to make a decision in an emergency and cleverly to avoid any accident.

You need to consider which fishing boat has more maneuverability and which doesn’t, so that you can decide what to do next. These factors must be given importance based on the level of priority and danger they pose when encountered. If you encounter a sail boat and a fishing boat at the same time, be careful to prioritize passing a fishing boat safely, as it will not have enough maneuverability to pass easily.

When anglers see fishing boats, they should realize that they must have fishing nets and other gears in the water. There are also defined fishing lines in many places which define a specific place for anglers to practice fishing. Due to these lines, the boats inside these areas cannot travel freely outside these lines, and can have limited maneuverability. 

The fishing boats which have not communicated with the captain of the boat already in these lines cannot cross or go inside these laid lines. It is necessary for an approaching captain to communicate with the captain already in the fishing line through signals that they are going to enter.

How To Pass A Fishing Boat?

While in the water on your vessel, when you have to pass a fishing boat, you need to follow certain rules and guidelines which depend on the situation. 

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

Here Are Some Of The Basics Of The Right Way To Pass A Fishing Boat:

 The first question that is asked when it comes to two ships passing is, “what side do you pass an upcoming boat?” The US Coast Guard Fishing Rules state the two boats passing each other should steer to their starboard side. This makes both passing boats cross each other from their port side, which ensures a clear and smooth routes. Captains also need to make sure that the boats have certain distance among each other which prevents any accidental collisions. Maintaining a minimum distance also ensures that any fishing lines or nets are not disturbed or involved in any misbalancing of the boats.

A very important thing to keep in mind while you face a boat coming from opposite side is that you have to signal the captain of the other boat. When you face a situation in which you have to pass a fishing boat, signal the captain and when they acknowledge your signal and respond with an ok signal, only then should you attempt to pass the boat. Not communicating clearly can have serious consequences.

To signal the captain of the captain of the opposite boat, two easy rules are being followed. If your boat is on the starboard side, blow the horn once to signal the other captain. If you are on the port side of the boat, blow the horn twice to let the captain make a safe way for your boat.

Passing a fishing boat requires lots of skill and concentration. You cannot just pass a fishing boat easily. There can be hurdles in the water body which can result in accidents. To avoid such situations, you need to keep an eye out for any such hurdles. If it is hard to keep an eye out on the water conditions, take help from your crew board. They can keep out an eye for any other vessel coming your way, or other hurdles which can be seen and avoided in the water. There can be small islands, or swimmers in the water, which should be paid special attention to avoid any accident.

In many cases, the maneuverability of the boat and position of the boat might not be in the condition to steer to starboard side. In these cases, a captain needs to use their wits and steer to whichever side they assume is necessary to avoid collision. Avoiding an accident is the main priority when you are faced with any such circumstance. The rules of the water are developed to avoid accidents in the water, so that should always be kept in mind and if the problem of two crossing boats arises, common sense and skills will be your best tools after the knowledge of these rules.

Crossing A Fishing Boat At Night:

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

It is not advisable to sail a boat in water at night, but the situation can arise for anyone. If you find yourself in such a condition, you need to be careful as to avoid any collision with another boat or an accident with debris or other hurdles in the water.

A best way to avoid an accident is by having the headsets lit. This will highlight the surroundings of the boat and warn you of any upcoming hurdles. Another way to recognize a boat in water is by recognizing it be its lights and steering clear of its way.

Boat lights are different colored which helps captains recognize the orientation of the boat. The front left light of a boat is red while the front right light is green. The light at the back is elevated and is white. This can help you pass the boat smoothly by recognizing the parts of a fishing boat.

What To Do If You Are On The Fishing Boat?

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

The other side of the picture is, “what to do if you are in the fishing boat?” You might not be the captain of the vessel which is passing by, but the captain of the fishing boat. How will you avoid collision and ensure a safe passage of the other captain?

When you are fishing in the water on your boat, there can be a lot of hazards which can lead to accidents. Some of these problems include; obstacles in the water, broken boats floating inside the water, debris and animals, swimmers, passing boats. Weather conditions can also make a boat unstable.

Sometimes, getting the wrong signal from the other captain can also result in mishaps. When a bat is overtaking a fishing boat, it can produce large wakes which can disturb the water under the fishing boat and make it unstable. All these factors needs to be considered.

When you are the captain of the fishing boat, you have more responsibility than the other captain. You need to maintain the speed of your boat. If you suddenly slow down or speed up your boat, it can result in confusion and ultimately, an accident. Since you get to keep your position and waterside, make sure to maintain a distance from the other boat. You also need to make sure that your boat doesn’t cut the other boat in a hurry, this can confuse the other captain and can result in overturning of their boat.

When you are fishing in the water, an average speed level should be observed. You must know the speed limits inside the water. Keeping a normal speed will allow you easy maneuverability and control over your boat, so when you need to turn or move it in an emergency, you can easily do it. 

You also need to be able to understand the signals from the captain of the other boat. It will help you decide a safe way to cross each other at a reasonable distance without facing any danger. If you find it hard to understand the signals from the other captain, get on the radio and communicate a course of action. The ultimate priority remains the avoidance of any crash and accidents.

When A Sailboat And A Fishing Boat Cross Each Other:

When a fishing boat and a sailboat meet in the water, they also need to follow the water guidelines set by the local authorities. In such a case, fishing boat gets to keep its side of the waterway, as it has limited maneuverability.

The fishing boat needs to give way to the sail boat so that both can cross each other smoothly.

Crossing A Fishing Boat When Both Boats Meet Heads On:

If you are in a condition when your boat and the other boat is passing each other heads on, one boat should steer to the side by communicating first. When the other captain responds ok, then the first captain should steer to the starboard side. This will make both the boats cross each other on their port side. 

When two boats meet each other heads on, both boats should slow down their speed and try to maintain large distance between each other. If there is small distance between both boats, crossing can upset the balance of both boats due to the wake they create in the water. 

If the size of both boats differ largely, the wake from larger boat can disturb the balance of smaller boat. This can result in overturning of the smaller boat. This is why, it is advised to maintain large distance when crossing a boat.

Crossing A Fishing Boat In A Narrow Channel:

There can be lots of circumstances when you have to cross a fishing boat at close quarters. It can be a small water body or a tight waterway which can create a problem of passing safely. When any such situation arises, communicating clearly with the other captain is really necessary. 

In such cases, one boat needs to stay put while the other passes it. The captain of a passing boat should steer right as you would in any normal condition in open waters. The two boats should steer to their right sides cross each other at their port sides. If the sizes of two boats are vastly diverse, the larger boat should pass first. If you have the larger boat, make sure to stay as far from the other boat as you can and keep a tight grip on your steering wheel.


How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

Sail boat right of way in the water is when it is faced against powered vessels. This is because sailboats has less maneuverability as compared to powered vessels. Yet, if the sailboat is also powered, this means that it has more maneuverability and thus, this is considered as an exception. 

If you have a sailboat, and you are crossing an anchored fishing boat, you must keep in mind that the anchored fishing boat has the boating right of way. You will need to steer past the anchored boat keeping a large wake. 

If a large boat is faced against a sailboat, the large vessels gets the right of way. If, in case, a sailboat comes against a powerboat, the power boat has the right of way.

General Rules Of Passing A Fishing Boat:

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat

There are other rules of passing a fishing boat. These boat passing rules are easy to remember as they generally understandable. 

An anchored fishing boat gets the right of way. You must steer past an anchored boat keeping a large distance to avoid any accidents. An anchored boat can have lines or nets spread inside the water. You do not want the net or line wrapped around the propeller of your boat.

Always keep a radio with you while boating. It will ensure that you can easily communicate with the other boat before passing each other. 

Making large wakes can result in the disturbance of balance of other boats. It can lead to accidents. To avoid this, keep as much distance from the other boat as is possible and acceptable.

If an anchored boat has set up their nets on their left side, you will not be able to pass from there. in this case, you can pass from the right side of the anchored boat after communicating with the captain. 

Communicating and understanding the basic rules is very important.

Why Following These Boating Rules Is So Important?

When you are on roads, you see clearly defined ways which you can stay on, to reach you destination. There are also traffic rules which help you and others stay safer on the roads. 

In water ways, there are no properly defined roads. This provides freedom of sailing, yet it can also arise problems sometimes. When there are no properly defined roads, people can be faced with many boats or hurdles inside the water, passing which can have serious consequences. 

To avoid these rules, clear rules were developed to help people navigate safely in the water.

Just imagine, you face a fishing boat in water, there are no clearly defined rules that you know. You both assume your own rules and try to steer to the same side, resulting in a crash. No one would want that. There are millions of boats in the water each year and there are thousands of boating accidents, just because people get careless in learning the important rules and using their intuitions. Learn about the dangers of anchoring a boat from its stern.

As a report of US Coast Guard, there were 4300 boating accidents in 2017. Almost 1000 people die each year in these boating accidents. This is why, there are rules defined which ensure that people can stay safe in case of an emergency.

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