Boating 101: Ethics on the Water

Lately I have received a great deal of questions about courtesy and ethics on the water—the most common being, “How close is too close when it comes to another fishing boat?”

My answer is this: try to give at least 100 yards between you and another boat. Now, I know this is not always possible where the shoreline is limited or when fishing passes and nearshore reefs. But the point is simple, really; treat people as you want to be treated and give them as much room as you would like them to give you. Common courtesy and common sense are actually the same when it comes to being polite on the water. If you see a boat working a shoreline and it is drifting with the tide or using a trolling motor and moving along the shoreline, do not cut it off, even if it is by 100 yards, and think that the captain is not going to get upset. This is where a lot of arguments start. That boat was there first, and it should be allowed to continue its drift without a latecomer jumping in front.

This rule of thumb also applies when you are running your boat on plane. Give others that are trying to fish plenty of room. There is plenty of water, so don’t run so close that you spook their fish and ruin that spot for them. This is especially true when tarpon fishing, as there is nothing worse than carefully positioning your boat to intercept a school of tarpon and then having some yahoo run right over the school you’ve been waiting to intercept for the last 30 minutes. Also remember that the captain of a boat is always legally responsible for any damages or injuries caused by wake.

You might think I’m only speaking to new boaters, but this also applies to seasoned anglers and guides like me. No one owns the water—it is there for everyone to enjoy, and if we can all get along and behave ourselves it can be that much more enjoyable. Remember to treat people how you want to be treated. Give each other room, because if you don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

Tight lines!

Capt. Josh Greer
XXL Sportfishing
(863) 781-1373