How Should You Pass a Fishing Boat?

There are certain rules and regulations which need to be followed when you are out in the water.

Whether you are out there for work or the fun is beside the point, it is not only crucial to ensure your safety, but equally important to make sure that the people around you are safe too.

Safety in the water is a matter of concern as many people might be scared of the water or might not be able to swim. Herein, one thing that might lead to issues regarding safety would be passing fishing boats.

Luckily, in this article, you will get the details on how to navigate around them.

Why Should You be Careful when Passing Fishing Boats

More and more people around the world are taking up the hobby of boating and fishing, which means that there are many vessels you have to be careful of. The US Coast Guard has several rules and regulations that people should be aware of and try to abide by.

It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of those on your boat and the ones near you. Following the rules and regulations would be the first step towards ensuring their safety.

Now, the water is not a very safe place, to begin with. If you are not careful enough, then you might find yourself in the middle of a collision, and at best this would lead to a few scratches and dents on the boat. But at worse, this might even lead to loss of life.

On top of that, the risk of an accident increases for fishing boats. And the main reason behind such occurrences is that these boats have lines and hooks in the water. At times, these lines go to a distance of a 100-yards.

These fishing lines might end up getting stuck to the bottom of another boat, and that is what might lead to a massive accident in the waters. So, to avoid situations like that, some rules have been constructed, much like there are for roads, to maintain order and safety.

Without these rules set in place, the number of accidents and possible fatalities would be far more.

US Coast Guard's Rule

There are certain rules which need to be followed while passing another boat. Now, the rules state that the boats of the vessels should steer to the right-hand side, so in that situation, both of the boats will be passing the other whilst being more inclined towards their left-hand side.

US coast guard

The wake of the boat should be kept to an absolute minimum, while passing one another, to avoid any type of involuntary movement. Also, steer clear of all the fishing lines.

Passing Fishing Boats on the Portside AKA the Left-Hand Side

According to the US Coast Guard's rule, boats must cross each other on the left-hand side, meaning they should be on each other's left while crossing or bypassing. However, this might not always be an option for all situations.

Sometimes you might see that the fishing boat you want to cross has some lines that go out in the direction of the shore, so you will not be able to pass them from the port side. In this case, you are going to have to navigate or maneuver yourself out of the spot.

Now, when you find yourself in a situation as such, the best way out of it would be to communicate with the person navigating the boat you are going to pass. In this communication, all you have to do is let the other person know which route you are going to use when you bypass them.

Once both of you have your routes figured out, you should be good to go. In cases like these, there is really no scope or opportunity to follow the guidelines or the rules by the book. You will have to improvise a little.

In situations like these, your main concern should not be the rules or the guide. It should be about avoiding all accidents and collisions.

Why is Passing Fishing Boats Complicated?

From what we all know about fishing boats, they have many added features to them. Most of the boats have nets and cast lines. Navigating through them might prove to be a tricky task. The net might get caught up with your boat, and there might be some dragging involved due to that.

This dragging might result in damage for both of the boats involved in the scenario.


You have to make sure you communicate with the people on the boat which you are crossing so that they have a heads up that you are passing by. Also, the speed should be something you have to keep under control, as otherwise, you might lose control of the boat and then face an accident.

Traveling at a safe speed will enable you to control the boat and stop any incident from happening and avoid any sort of head-on collision with another boat or the dock. This also helps in keeping you safe during bad weather when the waters become turbulent.

Now, if you are on the boat which is being crossed, then you have to do your part and let your counterpart know your situation.


Certain things must be followed when you are on the road or even the water. And as the person responsible for other people's lives, being aware of the rules is a must.

Last Updated on March 9, 2021