How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat? – 5 Simple Steps

Navigational rules for boating can be difficult to remember, especially if you are going out on the water for fun, rather than as a job. Nevertheless, they are necessary and must at all times be followed to ensure safety not only for yourself, but others.

Passing a fishing boat can seem daunting to many boating newbies, but actually is not that much different from passing other boats. Have you wondered how you should pass a fishing boat? You simply need to follow the general rules and take into account some peculiarities. Nothing too daunting though, don’t worry!

Let’s have a look at the details.

Approaching and thinking about how should you pass a fishing boat

Did you know, that fishing boats have priority excepting vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to maneuver? So in other words, basically to all normal operated boats! Therefore, you need to take special care when passing. Additionally, the U.S. fishing industry market size has been stable or growing consistently. Thus, there are an increasing number of boats to watch out for.

However, not only a moving fishing boat poses special needs for consideration. When a fishing boat is engaged in fishing and you want to pass it, you have to take extra care of the surrounding area. Watch out for lines, nets and other boats. Otherwise you might accidentally destroy part of the gear or even damage your boat.

Finally, make sure to affect the fishing boat as little as possible. That includes not making waves, that could be dangerous to anyone on that boat. So without further ado, let’s see the answer to how should you pass a fishing boat correctly.

Thai fishing boat used as a vehicle for finding fish in the sea

Laws on Boats in General

There are a ton of boating regulations and I am sure you are aware of many if you have already gotten your license. Nevertheless, let’s look shortly at how to pass a boat in general:

  1. Generally, to pass another boat steer towards the starboard (right) side, so that you pass it in the port (left) side.
  2. Sound the horn once before doing so and wait for a reply. When unsure how to proceed, consider radioing the other captain.
  3. When it is clear, pass the boat slowly and watch your wake. If you pass too fast, not only will you have less time to react to any possible obstructions, but the wake will create waves. It is common courtesy to minimize this.
  4. In any case, keep a wide enough berth. Similar to your speed, this is something you can control directly and it enables you to react better to any kind of hazards you might encounter.
  5. Watch out for other boats, especially recreational vehicles like SUPs and kayaks. Not only does your relatively bigger boat impact them harder, but people operating them are usually not that big on rules after all 🙂
a dutch fishing boat, about to be passed

How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat - The Specifics

Let’s take a look at what is different when passing a fishing boat compared to other boats:

  1. Fishing vessels use special lights. Watch out for them!
  2. The fishing boats might have cast lines or nets when engaged in fishing. Two boats might even be pair trawling, having cast a net between them.
  3. This might make it difficult or impossible to pass the boat on the port side. Therefore, you can opt to pass on the starboard side instead. Make sure to signal this to the boat though, by sounding the horn twice instead of once and waiting for a reply.
  4. Watch out for your wake and thus speed when passing even more than usual, as waves can be dangerous for fishermen on the boat.
  5. When in doubt, also create even more space when passing, if possible.

Finally, check out this decent video:

Happy Boating!

To recap, follow these simple steps to overtake a fishing boat:

  1. Watch for signals
  2. Look out for lines and nets around it
  3. Choose a side, generally the portside and communicate accordingly
  4. Give as much space as possible
  5. Pass at an appropriate speed

Enjoy your boating adventure, but always make sure to stay safe! Any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.