TIP OF THE WEEK – Private Boat Etiquette

Private boat etiquette, where do I start? Let’s start at the bait barge…. Make sure when at the bait barge, you are treating the person there with respect and they will likely return the favor. They deserve it and they will be with you all day (in the bait tank). So we know what that means??? I wanted to avoid using that three letter word again.

Ok, so now we are on our way offshore, up or down the coast, for the day. Now if you don’t have FishDope or a pre-set game plan for the day, a lot of guys are in their glasses looking for partyboats. And when they see the sporties they tell their buddies they “are in the right place now”. I am recommending that you avoid this style of fishing. Try to stay in an area where you are not looking at the same water as the other boats, especially sportboats – look for clean water (where other boats are not).

If you are fishing inshore and you happen to end up fishing the same water as a sportboat (and I am not suggesting that you follow any sportboats), you need to stay away from their stern. I would advise, if you can, to always anchor off their bow. Be careful when anchoring near the sporties; stay out of jig range. If you think about it, fish swim up current. So if you park off the bow of the sportboat and the fish they are fishing for will swim right to your boat.

One of the things that are most comical to me about offshore paddy fishing is hearing guys on the radio asking other guys who are fishing a paddy if they can be let in to the bite. Now some may see this as good etiquette, but I disagree completely. If somebody else is fishing a paddy, whether they are in the middle of a bite or not, I don’t see it as a good practice to ask them to share the same water. Everybody works hard to find paddy’s offshore. If you see someone on a paddy, go ahead and mark it or note the location and keep on looking for your own. There is a high likelihood that there are more paddy’s nearby. If your search brings you back (later) to the same area, you may be in luck and the previous guy has moved on. Nothing shuts down a bite quicker than a bunch of boats racing in and chopping the salad, and that is exactly what will happen if you ask a guy on the radio and he answers you.
Now if you are out fishing paddies, and you have been in on the fish, but are leaving or about to leave and want to do a boat in the area a solid, or give some good dope to some of your buddies who are out on the water, that’s when to call somebody in. Having said that, as I have written before, I am not a fan of chasing radio bites. There is a HUGE difference in asking to fish somebody’s bite and being asked to fish somebody’s bite.

Let’s talk A little about hooping. When you get to wherever you are wanting to hoop and someone has gotten to the spot first, please do not drop your hoops on theirs. They beat you to the spot. Don’t get angry at the other guys, just go find a new spot; you need more then one spot anyway. Make sure your buoys are well lit and big enough to be seen by other boats. I have had guys yell at me because I ran over their line only to discover later that they were using a dingy buoy, an antifreeze jug or a water bottle and no light. Having your gear visible to everyone will make it easier for everyone.

The most important thing I can tell you is to use common sense. Make sure your boat and gear are in safe and good working order. Make sure you have Sea Tow or some other service just in case something happens – and I don’t care who you are, stuff happens. Be aware of the weather and the other boats. The best site that I’ve found for weather is Buoy Weather. In my opinion, FishDope will help you create the best game plan for a day on the water – I use it every day.

If you are struggling to find spots I recommend that you give me a call. Hire me or a guide service like mine to help you fill your GPS and expand your knowledge base. I fish, primarily locally 200-250 days a year, and getting help will definitely shorten your learning curve.

Good fishing to every one.

Captain Dave Hansen

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Captain Dave Hansen

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