Travel Tips

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boat [2023]

On the water, we have freedom to ride and take a detour. With freedom come certain responsibilities. We need to ensure that we are safe and others are safe too.

While taking a joyride, always remember that certain boats are on water for different reasons. Some could be good carriers, some could be fishing vessels or some could be boaters like you.

Tootling along the water, you need to keep safe distance from these boats and ships. In this article, we will particularly talk about a fishing boat. 

A fishing boat  really a danger?

There is a common confusion among the boaters regarding how should you pass a fishing boat? This question arises because of the risk you might go into while boating near a fishing boat. Is a fishing boat really dangerous? Let’s find out.

Fishing can be carried out as deep- sea fishing or freshwater fishing. Deep- sea fishing requires larger fishing vessels. These vessels could be trawlers and non-trawlers. Trawlers have trawler nets (made of nylon) and suspend from the poles. A heavy chain is attached to the ends of the net that helps the net reach deeper in the water and catch the fish. These ropes and nets are spread sometimes for yards. 

Another category is of non-trawlers. These vessels are also huge with ropes suspended from the poles but spread over the water.  Such vessels are used in oceans where the nets cannot be pulled against the ocean water. The fish swim to the net and are caught in the net. These nets spread across a kilometre. 

As a note, you are not supposed to pass a line until the captain of the boat has given you a clear signal. Your boat might get stuck or pushed away by the nets and the lines. That is why you need to understand how should you pass a fishing boat? Be cautious while next time.How Should You Pass A Fishing Boats

How should you pass a fishing boat

Now here are some navigation rules that will help you in situations where you come across a fishing boat or identify one at a distance. These techniques are not hard and fast. You will have to use them as per your situation. So remember most of them and try to work them out as a demo session before actually applying on the water so that there won’t be any panic.

  • Take a pause- when there are two boats approaching each other on the water, one boat is always a signalling and the other is a stand-on. So make sure you wait, till the boat gives a signal if it’s halting or changing the directions. It is cautionary for both the boats to slow the speed down while crossing.
  • Steer away– usually boaters try to steer towards the ‘Starboard’ side i.e. to the right side. Your steer is always on this side and it is easy to change the direction of the boat to avoid collision. But if the fishing boat is on the starboard side, then you are the stand-on boat. Wait for the signal. You can use this rule if the fishing boat has cast the lines out towards the shore. Change your direction and reach the nearest shore.
  • The port side- if you and the fishing boat are approaching face to face, you should steer towards your port side .i.e. left side by keeping a safe distance between the boats.
  • Honk honk! It is mandatory to honk while passing a fishing boat. If you are passing through your starboard side, honk your horn once and wait for the boat to signal you through single honk. If you are steering towards your port side, then horn twice and wait for the double horns from the other boat. Lower down your speed.
  • Check for any obstructions- if you have any crew members with you ask them to check for obstructions around or you can check them by yourself. Obstructions could be other boats approaching you, any anchoring poles in the way, or sail boats, or surfers. Give them a signal.
  • A night owl! If you love boating at night, you must take more precautions. Limit your speed. Take a pause and observe the lights of the fishing boat. Mostly, these boats have two colours light in the front side (bow). The left side light is red in colour and the right side light is green. Hence the port side has red and the starboard side has green colour light. For more security, you can even check a white light that is situated high up at the back side of the boat i.e. the stern. These lights help us to navigate the direction of the boat and where it is moving.
  • An anchored fishing boat- how should you pass a fishing boat? If you find an anchored fishing boat in the middle of the water, make sure you remain at an adequate distance. Take judgements as per the situation. You can use your port side anytime but wait for the signal and honk. 
  • Are you in a fishing boat? It could be a case where you go for fishing. At this moment it’s your duty too to check the safety measures. As a fishing boat, you are not allowed to over-speed or under-speed your vessel. Keep a consistent speed so that you don’t wake the other boats. Give a signal to other boaters and use lights while fishing at night. At this time you are the way givers, so communicate with the other boaters and signal them when it is safe for them to pass by.

How Should You Pass A Fishing Boats


So you have got your answer regarding how should you pass a fishing boat? These are some navigation techniques you can use while passing a fishing boat.

You would always want to be updated so never miss out on any update for navigational rules on water by US waters and federal laws. They out their website time to time in order to avoid accidents and fatal mishaps. Here is the link to the website Do give it a visit. 


In the conclusion, I would remind you that your safety comes along with your fellow boaters. If you are a boater passing a fishing boat, make sure you take conscious decisions. Take help of your fellow crew members to check around for any obstructions and get a clear way from the other boat. Communicate and never hesitate to take a pause. If you are in a fishing boat, make sure you signal other boaters. I hope I have answered how should you pass a fishing boat? If there are any other navigation rules, comment us below and we would add the in the list. Always stay safe!

Read more: How To Tie Down A Kayak Without A Roof Rack

Hi, I'm Bhavesh Bhati thanks for visiting my blog! I've been traveling and exploring epic locations around the world for the last four years. I'm always looking for real adventures like treks, waterfalls, and Offroading!

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