Keeping Safe on the Water: How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat?

Have you ever been out on the water, enjoying the sun and the waves, only to find yourself face-to-face with a fishing boat? It can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re new to boating. But don’t worry!

In this article, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about passing a fishing boat safely.

Why it’s important to pass a fishing boat safely

The Dangers of Reckless Boating

The first thing you need to understand is why it’s so important to pass a fishing boat safely. Fishing boats are much smaller and more vulnerable than other types of boats, and they often navigate in shallower waters. This means that they’re more likely to sustain damage or capsize if they’re hit by a larger, faster-moving boat. Additionally, many fishing boats have people standing or sitting on the deck, which can make it difficult for them to maneuver out of the way quickly.

Not only is unsafe boating dangerous, but it can also have serious legal consequences. In most states, there are specific laws and regulations that govern how boats should pass each other on the water. If you’re caught violating these rules, you could face fines, license suspensions, or even jail time. So not only is it important to pass a fishing boat safely to protect yourself and others, but it’s also the law.

The Proper Way to Pass a Fishing Boat

Slow Down and Approach the Boat from Behind

The first thing you should do when approaching a fishing boat is to slow down and approach it from behind. This will give the fishermen on board plenty of time to see you and maneuver out of the way if necessary. Approach the boat slowly and steadily, and maintain a safe distance at all times.

Signal Your Intentions

Once you’re close enough to the fishing boat, you should signal your intentions to the people on board. This can be done with a hand signal or a horn blast. Let them know which side you plan to pass them on, and be prepared to adjust your course if necessary.

Pass at a Safe Distance

As you pass the fishing boat, be sure to maintain a safe distance at all times. In most cases, this means staying at least 100 feet away from the boat. Remember that fishing lines can be long, so be extra cautious if you’re passing a boat that’s actively fishing.

Slow Down Again Once You’ve Passed the Boat

Once you’ve passed the fishing boat, be sure to slow down again and give the boat plenty of space. You don’t want to create a wake that could capsize the boat or damage any of the equipment on board. Maintain a slow speed until you’re well clear of the fishing boat.

Additional Tips for Safe Boating

Maintain a Lookout

One of the most important things you can do to stay safe on the water is to maintain a lookout at all times. This means keeping your eyes on the water and being aware of your surroundings. You never know when another boat, a jet ski, or even a swimmer might be in your path.

Know the Rules of the Water

As we mentioned earlier, there are specific rules and regulations that govern how boats should pass each other on the water. Make sure you know these rules before you head out on the water. This will help you avoid any legal trouble and keep yourself and others safe.

Don’t Drink and Boat

Finally, we can’t stress enough how important it is to never drink and boat. Boating under the influence is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, and it’s illegal in all 50 states. If you plan to drink while you’re out on the water, make sure you have a designated driver or stay sober.


Passing a fishing boat safely is an essential skill for any boater. By following these tips and guidelines, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the water. Remember to always maintain a lookout, know the rules of the water, and never drink and boat. With a little bit of practice and patience, you’ll be passing fishing boats like a pro in no time!