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Boat Ramp Etiquette
Chris Roberts


As winter starts to wind down, us fishermen are looking forward to getting out to our favorite lake.  The boat and tackle shows tell us that itís time for us to start shaking off our current case of cabin fever.  Sometimes we forget some of the aggravations and hassles that often occur at the lake.  There are a few things that all of us need to remember in order to spare our fellow boaters some headaches.  It all starts at the boat ramp.  Letís talk about boat ramp etiquette.

We have all been there, trying to back our boat down a dark ramp and the guy next to us has his headlamps on.  It is awful when you canít see the lanes or the sides of the ramp.  It used to be so simple, just turn your parking lights on and get after it.  A lot of the new trucks have headlights that come on automatically.  However, there are ways to keep them from coming on.  I know that on GM trucks up to 1998, you just put your parking brakes on to the first click and they will immediately go off.  On the 1999 and 2000 models however, you have to put your parking brake on prior to starting it.  On the 2001 model you have to push the dome override button four times.  If you own a Ford or Dodge with automatic headlights, you can simply use the switch on the dash to bypass this feature.  All of these steps will keep you from blinding the guy backing down next to you.  When at the ramp, it is a good idea to keep your parking lights burning at all times.  It seems that there is never enough light at the ramps and it could keep your boat from getting damaged before you even get into the water.

Preparing your boat for launch prior to backing down the ramp is another good idea.  Last year I was putting in at Eufala on a one lane ramp and the guy in front of me had waited at least ten minutes prior to getting his turn to put his boat in.  I was ready to go and the sun was coming up fast.  The guy backed down the ramp almost to the water and then stopped and started to get his straps and motor toter off.  Then he pumped the bulb for his big motor.  Then he put his plug in the boat.  At this point, I was fit to be tied.  Then the guy took the strap off of his trolling motor and started pulling rods out of the rod locker.  To top it all off, he was by himself.  I walked down to the ramp and asked if I could spot his trailer in the water for him so he could get on his way.  After about eight minutes, I was able to launch my boat.  This was not the way that I planned for my morning to start off.  Please, if you are in a line at the boat ramp, get your boat ready prior to taking up a lane on the ramp. 

Have you ever pulled up the ramp for a tournament and the line of boats stacked up all the way back to the entrance gate?  Iíve had that happen on numerous occasions.  I have found that a lot of guys get to the tournament early and like to talk to people until almost time for blast-off.  Well the people that canít see the ramp from their place in line are all wondering what the hold up is.  If this happens to you, ask your partner to walk to the ramp and see.  Then you can pull around the guys that do not want to put in yet and you can go ahead and get on the water.  If you are one of the early birds, please pull to the side and let the other guys go around you.

The courtesy dock at the ramp is for loading and unloading.  It is not a place to get your equipment ready to go.  You can do that out on the water.  With so many boats putting in, the dock is a place of high traffic and it would be best to pick up your partner and then beach your boat close by.  It is hard enough to recognize your partner on the dock without having to fight for a place to pick him up.  Unless you are by yourself, you should never tie to the dock under these circumstances.  If you are by yourself, then try to tie your boat on the downwind side of the dock and let it swing away so that other boats will have easy access to the dock.

These are just a few helpful hints to let you get off to a great day of fishing and you wonít have to spend the first hour getting over your aggravation.

Leave a few for seed,

Chris Roberts
Field Editor