Safe Boating Course


CHAPTER 7: Water Activities & The Marine Environment



Casting and retrieving fish, or firing a gun from your boat, all require a steady boat and extra awareness of your surroundings. If you’re planning on fishing or hunting from your boat, you need to follow the same rules as other recreational boaters, plus keep the following guidelines in mind.

  • Always use the buddy system. Fishing or hunting alone is very risky, so it’s always better to go with a friend.
  • File a float plan by letting a responsible friend or family member know where you are going and when you expect to return. File a float plan whether you’re going alone or with a buddy.

  • Keep in mind that peak fishing hours tend to be in the early morning and early evening, when it’s dark or dusk, and vision is limited. So be sure to display the proper navigation lights and always have a backup flashlight.
  • Always load your boat properly. Keeping your equipment low and centered in the boat will help make your boat as stable as possible in the water.
  • Avoid making quick movements in your boat and remain seated as much as possible. If you have to move around the boat, try to keep three points of contact to help keep you and the boat stable. In particular, use extra caution whenever you’re casting for fish, retrieving your decoys, or firing your rifle, as any of these actions can easily result in a fall overboard.
  • Show respect for other boaters. Always keep a safe speed and limit any noise that carries over the water.
  • Wear your lifejacket. Many hunters and anglers die every year after falls overboard. In many cases, simply wearing a lifejacket could have saved their lives. Inflatable lifejackets are great for hunting and fishing because they are easy to move around in. And in cold waters, you might want to consider a full-body PFD or immersion suit. These not only help you stay afloat, they also keep you warm in cold water.
  • Our final guideline is for recreational boat operators, and that’s to give hunters and anglers lots of space. Anglers are casting all around their vessel, while hunters may be firing rifles. In both cases, you need to stay clear. Also, be aware of your wake, which can swamp an angler or hunter’s boat. Lastly, be aware that some anglers may be trolling their fishing line out behind them. So keep a good distance.

Whether you are hunting, angling or in the area of hunters or anglers, always keep a proper lookout and be aware of your surroundings.