So you’ve been invited for a day on the water with your new boat buddies, but you’re a total float trip novice? We’ve got your back. If you’re a dedicated wading angler, jumping on a boat and taking on a half or full-day float requires a slightly different perspective. Staples – like stocking fly boxes and bringing your sunnies – will carry over, but adding a boat to the equation changes things up a bit.
We had a little chit-chat with a couple Colorado guides to get their top Do’s & Don’t of boat float etiquette. Here’s what they had to say.
Cover Your Lid
Sunglasses help cut the glare and see fish; but that hat might just save you from the bow angler’s backcast. Whether you wear a traditional hat or take the large, full-brim option, just keep yourself covered. Trust us.
Stay in Your Bubble
There is only so much space in a raft or drift boat. With that in mind, navigating your space inside and outside of the rig is critical. If you’re cruising in the front seat, anything from in front of the oars and forward is fair game. Back seat: you get water rear of the oars. Staying in your zone, paired with maintaining line control will ensure no snagging of your boat buddy’s line and (hopefully) more fish to the boat.
Fill the Cooler & Pay for the Shuttle
If you think the invite means a free ride, think again. ‘Manning’ the oars can be tough work. You have to get people to where the fish are, navigate obstacles, and dodge poor casts. All this work makes a rower thirsty. Make sure you bring a couple easy-drinking sixers for your (and their) time on the water. And when you get off, either hook your buddy up with some gas money or pay for the shuttle service to get you back to the vehicle.
There are few things worse than waiting for “that guy” when you’re already at the put-in. If you’re on time, you’re late, so do yourself a favor and show up early. This will ensure you have time to rig up, get your gear situated and deal with any unforeseen issues that might come your way. Plus, showing up late might also mean waiting in long lines at the boat ramp and you don’t want that, do you?
Forget the Net
No net in the boat? No bueno. Forgetting the net is a surefire way to miss out on landing fish. Having a long-handled net on board allows you or one of your boat mates to scoop the fish up, rather than bending over the side of the boat. If you don’t have a long boat-specific net, bring what you use when wading. Just don’t use your hat – the materials and mesh can damage fish scales.
Snag the Last Cold Snack
The sun can be hot and the days can be long, so let your “Guide” (boat owner) indulge in the last beer in the cooler; they earned it. And if you hit the bar afterwards, consider covering the first round – that might even help earn your ticket for the next float.
Based in southern Colorado, Ryan is a photographer, outdoorswoman, fish chaser, and proud mama to two wild Outdoors-loving kiddos. When not wrangling little ones or cattle dogs, you’ll find her on the water, on a trail or on the road looking for the next piece of water and (hopefully) high country trout.