How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat?


Fishing is a popular activity enjoyed by many individuals around the world. Whether you’re cruising along the coast or navigating through busy waterways, encountering fishing boats is inevitable. Knowing how to pass a fishing boat safely and respectfully is crucial to ensure the safety of both parties involved. In this article, we will discuss the proper techniques and guidelines for passing a fishing boat while on the water. The fishermen always try to seek fishes and that can be accomplished by using various gadgets such as fishing rods, ice fishing lures, and more.

When encountering a fishing boat while boating, it’s important to understand the concept of the right of way. Right of way refers to the privilege of one vessel to proceed ahead of another. Understanding the rules and regulations that govern the right of way is essential for maintaining safety on the water.

Understanding Right of Way

Definition and Importance

Right of way determines the order in which vessels should navigate to avoid collisions. It ensures a systematic approach to vessel traffic, promoting safety and preventing accidents. Abiding by right-of-way rules is essential for all boaters, including those encountering fishing boats. During fishing, you must know how to string a fishing pole.

International Regulations

Internationally, right-of-way rules are standardized by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). These regulations establish clear guidelines for vessel navigation and help prevent collisions in various maritime situations.

Local Rules and Regulations

In addition to international regulations, specific regions or countries may have their own local rules and regulations regarding right of way. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these rules before setting out on the water, as they may vary from one jurisdiction to another.

Approaching a Fishing Boat

Fishing boat

When approaching a fishing boat, it’s crucial to adopt a cautious and respectful approach. Follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and seamless encounter.

Maintaining Distance

As you approach a fishing boat, maintain a safe distance to avoid interfering with their fishing activities. Fishing boats often have extended gear, such as nets or lines, which can pose a risk if entangled with another vessel. Keeping a safe distance allows the fishermen to carry out their operations undisturbed.

Reducing Speed

To minimize the impact of your vessel’s wake on the fishing boat, reduce your speed as you approach. Slowing down helps prevent any disturbance to the fishing gear and reduces the risk of collision.

Using Horn Signals

Before approaching a fishing boat, it’s recommended to signal your presence using short horn blasts. This alerts the fishermen to your presence and allows them to be aware of your intentions.

Observing Fishing Activities

As you approach, be observant of the fishing activities taking place. Look for signs of fishing gear in the water, such as buoys or floats, and adjust your course accordingly to avoid entanglement.

Communicating with the Fishing Boat

Clear communication with the fishing boat is essential to ensure a smooth passage. Here are a few effective methods of communication.

VHF Radio Communication

VHF radio communication is a widely used method for communicating with other vessels, including fishing boats. Before attempting to pass a fishing boat, hail them on the VHF radio using the appropriate channel. Politely request permission to pass and provide your vessel’s information, such as your name, type of vessel, and your intended course of action. Listen carefully to their response and follow their instructions. Maintain a professional and courteous tone during communication.

Hand Signals

In situations where VHF radio communication is not possible or not effective, hand signals can be used to communicate with the fishing boat. Learn and understand commonly used hand signals that are recognized by fishermen. Signals such as pointing in a specific direction or indicating your intention to pass can help convey your message. Remember to keep the signals clear, visible, and easily understandable.

Eye Contact

Establishing eye contact with the fishermen on the boat can also serve as a means of communication. Eye contact can help convey your intention to pass and ensure that they are aware of your presence. However, it’s important to maintain a safe distance and not distract the fishermen from their tasks. Use eye contact as a supplementary communication method alongside other established means.

Passing the Fishing Boat

Once you have established communication and received permission from the fishing boat, follow these guidelines for a safe passage.

Choosing the Appropriate Side

When passing a fishing boat, it’s generally recommended to pass on the side opposite to the side where they are actively fishing. This allows them to continue their operations without interference. However, if the fishing boat signals a specific side for you to pass, follow their instructions accordingly.

Keeping a Safe Distance

Maintain a safe distance from the fishing boat as you pass. The specific distance may vary depending on the size of the fishing boat, the fishing gear deployed, and the prevailing conditions. Generally, a distance of at least 100 meters is considered safe. This distance helps prevent any accidental collisions or entanglements with their gear.

Monitoring the Fishing Gear

Keep a close eye on the fishing gear deployed by the boat. Look for buoys, nets, lines, or any other equipment in the water. Adjust your course and speed, if necessary, to avoid crossing or disturbing your gear. Be especially cautious when passing close to any lines or nets extending from the boat.

Adjusting Speed and Course

Maintain a steady and predictable course while passing the fishing boat. Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction that may startle or disrupt their operations. Gradually increase your speed once you have passed the fishing boat and ensure that you leave a sufficient distance between your vessel and theirs.


When passing a fishing boat, it’s important to prioritize safety, respect, and effective communication. Understanding the concept of right of way, maintaining a safe distance, and utilizing appropriate communication methods are key to a successful encounter. By following the guidelines provided in this article, you can navigate around fishing boats in a responsible and considerate manner, ensuring a safe and enjoyable boating experience for everyone involved.

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