Fishing safety for boaters
3rd November 2021 Elena Manighetti
Fishing from a boat is great fun, especially on a sunny, breezy day. The experience is so absorbing that it’s easy to get distracted and forget to follow basic safety rules, though. At Deckee, we value your safety above all, so we have compiled a list of fishing safety tips.
The number one piece of advice to follow, no matter where you are fishing and from what boat, is to keep a lookout at all times, so you are aware of how you’re moving and anything around you. Scan the area around your boat and the horizon at regular, short intervals. The wind and current may push you towards a reef, oil rig, anchored yacht, and more.
Don’t rely on other boats moving out of the way, especially as sailboats make little noise while approaching. If you doubt a craft has seen you, use your fog horn to alert them before they get too close. If, however, you get no feedback from the other boat, turn on the engine and get ready to move out of the way. The other boater may be incapacitated and not keeping watch.
Drifting and power drifting
When drifting, if you are inexperienced, leave the engine on in neutral at first. This will allow you to quickly move if anything happens. Don’t start drifting down current or close to another boat, so the lines won’t get tangled and you won’t collide. Finally, avoid setting a drift upwind of a fleet of anchored boats and don’t set anchor down-drift of other drifting boats, blocking their path.
Deep water fishing at anchor
While it’s easy to get carried away with the enthusiasm of deep water fishing, it’s very important that you properly set your anchor before you start. This is so you won’t drift onto any wrecks or rocks and the anchor won’t get stuck on any obstructions, such as big rocks or coral, on the seabed.
Take the time to dig in the anchor well and keep an eye on your position at all times. It’s also a good idea to have a sharp knife on hand, so you can cut the anchor line if you drop the ground tackle in dangerous water.
Fishing under sail
Fishing under sail can be a little bit more complicated and exciting. There’s a lot to do on deck to get things under control. Try not to exceed the optimal fishing speed for your lure by adjusting the sails and keeping an eye on the speed log.
When you feel a bite, quickly get to work to slow the boat down by furling your headsail. In stronger winds, you may have to reef the mainsail, too. Ideally, you will have crew onboard who can do this while keeping a lookout and helming the boat in the right direction.
Once the fish is on board, it’s best to keep the speed low while you handle it. You can unfurl and take any reefs out once everything is back into place.
Fishing safety extra tips
Here are a few more tips to stay safe while fishing from a boat.
Don’t fish alone, try to take a friend with you
Fish away from shipping lanes or buoyed fairways
Carry a spare anchor, should you need to abandon your main one
Keep well away of other boats who are fishing to avoid wrapping their lines on your prop
Keep your lures and hooks in tackle boxes, so no one can get hooked on them
Wear a life jacket
To catch larger fish, secure your life jacket tether to a strong clip-in point on deck
Share a float plan with a reliable person
Know the rules of the road
Check the forecast
Stay sober at all times
Check that your safety equipment is in date and works
Take extra food and water
If you’re cold or tired or the conditions worsen, head back home right away.
Fishing safety is often overlooked, but it’s very important because there is so much going on on your boat and getting distracted is easy. While there may be a lot to remember at first, after a few times, you will start doing everything automatically.
Please make sure you research the safety regulations for the area you are fishing in. Some countries require that you show signals of shapes when at anchor or fishing. Safety equipment laws vary across the world.