Boat ramps are common areas visited by people of all different experience levels whether it be guides, newbies, or weekend warriors. We teamed up with The Qualified Captain to come up with a list of  9 rules that will help improve everyone’s boat ramp experience.

1) Prepare Your Gear in the Staging Area

The area directly in front of the boat ramp is valuable real estate. If your vehicle is in this area, you should either be launching or trailering the boat. All other parts of the process should occur in the staging area off to the side. Actions like inflating rafts, rigging up rods, arranging your cooler, attaching the anchor, etc., can all be completed before moving the boat into the ramp area (or even done at home before hitting the road).

Boat falls off trailer
Courtesy of @thequalifiedcaptain

2) Practice Backing Up a Trailer Before You Get to the Ramp

It is always a good idea to be confident with backing in a trailer before you actually get to a boat ramp. Under the pressure of a crowded boat ramp, you (and everyone else at the ramp) will be thankful that you took the time to practice before bringing your talent to the boat ramp. Go to an empty parking lot and practice. Take a day off during the week while the boat ramp is empty, and practice. This practice will go a long way!

If you are struggling with launching the boat, please ask for help. Other anglers would rather help out and clear the way instead of watching you fumble back and forth a hundred times.

Boat trailers and beer
Courtesy of @thequalifiedcaptain

3)Turn Off Your Headlights

When accessing a boat ramp, turn off your headlights. It’s alright to have them on while you’re backing up, but once you have the boat in place, turn those headlights off. This helps other people accessing the boat ramp at the same time because headlights reflect in other drivers’ rear view mirrors. Be considerate and turn your lights off for other drivers.

4) Be Quick

When you’re ready to launch the boat, make it snappy. Boat ramps aren’t always crowded, but when they are, there will be a line of people waiting for your spot. Have a plan to get in and out quickly.

One way to speed up the process is to have a friend with you. With two people, one person can stay with the boat and the other person can drive the vehicle. This drastically speeds up the process.

If you’re by yourself, check out this video for the “Quickest Way to Launch a Boat By Yourself.”

Courtesy of @thequalifiedcaptain

5) Take Up as Little Space as Possible

Some boat ramps are wide enough to allow for multiple boats to launch at once. If this is the case, make sure you leave enough room for other boats to access the ramp at the same time. This is where practicing will come in clutch… Having your boat alongside the dock, rather than launching in the middle of the ramp will make it way easier to get the boat off the trailer and to the dock. Most importantly, after the boat is launched, don’t be the person that takes up two parking spots.

6) Recognize Lines

Some people might be staging their boats, while others might be waiting in line to launch. It’s up to you to recognize who is ahead of you in line and respect the fact that they got there first. Always access the scene before making a move… Don’t be shy, just ask.

Courtesy of @thequalifiedcaptain

7) Avoid Ramps at Peak Times

Boat ramps become especially tricky when they’re crowded. One way to avoid the pressures of a crowded boat ramp is to utilize them during off-hours. Chances are, your experience will be a lot more relaxing on a weekday afternoon than a Saturday morning. 

8) Use Your Parking Brake

We’ve all seen the nightmare videos… Don’t be the next victim. You should always be using the parking brake on when stopped on the ramp. This is especially important on low tides.

car backing into water
Courtesy of @thequalifiedcaptain

9) Be Courteous

If you boil these rules down, you find that boat ramp etiquette is all about being courteous to others. We are all stoked to be getting out on the water. Let’s work together to make it an enjoyable experience

Thanks to the folks at The Qualified Captain for helping us put this list together. For more information about their company check out their website

Stay tuned for more installations of Fishing Etiquette!

Fishing Etiquette: Spot Burning

Fishing Etiquette: Trout Handling Best Practices

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