Boat Launching Etiquette

General fishing seasons are opening all across the Midwest and temperatures are warming. With this comes increased boat traffic on the lake and at the boat ramp. On fishing opener, holidays and the weekend in general, popular lakes can get a bit hectic at the boat launch.

Eager fishermen and boaters coming and going can be a recipe for frustration. How others operate at the ramp is unfortunately out of your control, but here are a few tips that you can take into account to do your part in smoothing out the process.

Boat Prep

Be sure to prepare your boat for launch in the proper location. If you know it’s going to take a bit of time to remove your boat straps, put the plug in, power on your electronics and prep your rods, momentarily park in a parking spot where you’re completely out of the way. When things are ready, you can then proceed to the ramp line and quickly dump the boat in. If you’re rig is close to being ready from the start, enter the ramp line, but simply be conscious that others are waiting behind you and make quick work of the final preparations.

Follow Ramp Instructions

At many of our larger lakes, DNR public accesses have identified the proper entry and exit routes with arrows, signs etc. Be sure to follow any instructions that are available. Cutting straight to the ramp vs. looping around or ignoring “Boat Preparation” zones can result in you being in the way of other boaters.

Launching and Parking your Boat

If the access you’re at has multiple ramps, pull all the way across to the furthest ramp if it’s available. This allows the next boats in line to easily fill in remaining ramps in a proper order that doesn’t force them to wait as you back in and have to drive beyond your position. Once the boat is in the water it’s now time to dock while you park your truck. This of course differs depending on if you have a partner or not. If your fishing buddy dropped you in and is parking the truck for you, just idle well out of the way and wait. There’s no need to take up dock space while your waiting on your partner, simply hover well away from others.

If you are flying solo it’s going to take you a few extra minutes to complete the process. When you dock the boat, park outside of the ramp area if spots are available. Parking your boat where others are trying to launch is one of the biggest mistakes you’ll see at boat ramps. Again, if spots are available, drive your boat around to the other side of the dock to remove yourself from the ramp area. The farther away you can get the better and for two reasons. One, you’re obviously out of the way… Two, you decrease the chances of having someone else bump into your boat while you’re parking, causing damage. Once your boat is parked in the proper location, hustle! Have some urgency to get back to your truck and remove yourself from the ramp are so others can move ahead.

At the end of the day, when ramps are busy, patience is the key. Do your part and do your best to stay patient and understanding when things are slow.

Don’t forget that you’re at the lake and all is good!