Minding Your Manners

Minding Your Manners

Proper etiquette at the boat ramp and on the water will keep things pleasant for everyone.

Story and photography by Matt Williams

It’s not that often that you cross paths with the uneducated or unruly at a launching ramp or smack in the middle of a public reservoir or waterway, but it happens way more often than you might think.

It is time for a beginners guide to boat ramp manners and fishing etiquette. The timing couldn’t be better for addressing both topics.

Recreational boat sales are through the roof and fishing is becoming increasingly popular among people of all ages. Plus, boating and fishing seasons are at their summer peaks.

It’s hard to imagine folks getting crossways over a launching lane at a boat ramp or a fishing-looking spot on public lake, river or bay. Sadly, it does.

Most altercations begin with foul language and escalate from there. Not every tiff ends in childish behavior but some of them do. I’ve heard of stories about grown men getting into fist fights, guns being brandished and personal property getting damaged over something as silly as a brush pile cloaked by 25 feet of water.

There is no formal guide for launching vessels at public boat ramps, or how anglers should conduct themselves when fishing among others on public waters. However, there is a passel of unwritten rules that apply. Most are built around common sense and everyday courtesy.

Boat Ramp Advice:  Hang around a public boat ramp on a busy weekend and you are liable to witness a comedy of errors to illustrate just how uneducated some people are when it comes to launching and loading a boat.

A good friend once saw a new tow vehicle sink at the end of a ramp after the driver of the truck backed the boat trailer in and failed to stop once the boat floated free.

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