Boating 101: How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat?

If you’re wondering how you should pass a fishing boat, the short answer is straightforward. The rules of water state that all boaters must take action to avoid a collision. In the hierarchy of the so-called right-of-way, power vessels must yield to fishing boats that have gear in the water.

Rules of the Water

Nearly 50 million Americans took to the water to go fishing, based on the latest 2017 figures. Though over half fish from the shoreline, proper boater education is imperative to prevent accidents with fishing vessels.

Boating differs from driving in that there isn’t a defined right-of-way like you’ll follow when driving. Instead, there are best practices or rules of the road you must obey. There are different regulations whether you’re on international or inland waters. There are also specific laws pertaining to rivers and the Great Lakes. As the captain of a boat, it’s your responsibility to know them.

Pecking Order

There is a hierarchy that dictates navigation based on the degree of control each pilot has of their boat. A powered boat that is underway is on the bottom of the totem pole. They are followed in order from least to highest in priority in this way:

  • Sailboats
  • Fishing boats actively engaged
  • Vessels with navigation restricted by draft