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Transporting a Fishing Boat

Published by Joe Webster.

Transporting a Fishing Boat

If you live to get out on the water, you likely take great pride in your boat. It's not just a mode of transportation, it's your home away from home and the key to your success on the water.

As a result, you want to be sure that your boat is transported safely when the time comes.

In this article, we'll discuss the best way to transport a fishing boat, so that you can rest assured that it will arrive at its destination safely and in one piece.

How Do You Prepare Your Fishing Boat for Transportation?

As a larger vessel, there are several factors to consider when transporting a boat. So once you decide to transport your recreational fishing boat, here are seven tips to get you started:

1) Make sure your boat has a rigid frame. This will guarantee that it can withstand the trip and any hiccups.

2) Get a fish transport permit if you're transporting a commercial fishing vessel. You can apply for this through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

3) Store your fishing equipment safely, including life jackets, nets, aquatic bait buckets, and tackle boxes.

4) Remove any live fish and unwanted bait from your boat before transport. You can release them into public waters or place them in a holding tank.

5) Drain the water from your boat, including the bilge, live wells, and bait wells.

6) Ensure your outboard motor is secured to the boat, so it doesn't come loose during transport.

7) Give your boat a good cleaning before you transport it. Doing this will remove any dirt or debris that can harm the vehicle during travel.

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What Do You Need to Transport a Fishing Boat?

Recreational fishing boats are classified as small watercraft propelled by oars, sails, or small motors. Larger boats such as all-purpose fishing boats can be used in fresh and saltwater bodies.

Recreational and all-purpose fishing boats are popular choices for those who enjoy spending time on the water. When transporting either type of boat, it is essential to have all of the necessary items in order to do so safely and legally.

To transfer a recreational boat legally and safely, all of these things are required:

  • A valid license
  • A registration certificate for the boat
  • A bill of sale for the boat
  • Insurance for the boat
  • A trailer to transport the boat
  • A way to launch and retrieve the boat from the water
  • Safety equipment for the boat

All these items are necessary to transport a recreational boat legally and safely. Without them, you may be putting yourself and others at risk.

When transporting an all-purpose fishing boat, the following items are also required in addition to the ones listed above:

  • A Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Visual distress signals
  • Navigation lights

These additional items are required by the Coast Guard.

Loading the Boat

If you are using a truck to transport your boat, you must follow these steps to properly and safely load it:

  1. Back the truck up to the boat ramp. Set the emergency brake and make sure the truck is in park gear. After that, you must put on your wench.
  2. Position the boat so it is parallel with the ramp and as close to the edge of the ramp as possible. You will need to do this to easily attach the boat to the wench.
  3. Attach the boat to the wench. Make sure you do this securely so that the boat does not come detached from the wench while it is transported.
  4. Drive the boat up the ramp and onto the truck cautiously and carefully. Make sure not to drive too quickly because doing so could harm the boat.
  5. Join the boat to the vehicle securely. You will need to do this so that the boat does not come off the truck while it is transported on land. You can use chains, ropes, or straps to fasten the boat to the truck.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your boat is safely and properly loaded onto the truck so that you can transport it to your fishing destination.

Driving Safely with a Boat Trailer

If you're planning fishing trips this summer, you may need to know how to use a trailer to transport your boat safely. The following are seven guidelines for towing a boat trailer safely:

1) Ensure that the weight of the boat and trailer won't damage your car. Check your owner's manual or ask your dealer for the maximum tongue and trailer weight your vehicle can tow.

2) Inspect the boat trailer before each trip. Check the tires for proper inflation, the brakes for proper operation, and all the lights to ensure they work properly.

3) Ensure the trailer is evenly balanced. The boat should sit on the trailer, not tilted to one side.

4) Use the proper size and type of ball mount. The ball mount should be the right size for your hitch receiver and have a locking pin to keep it from coming loose.

5) Fasten the boat properly to the trailer using ratchet straps or rope. The boat should be tied down at the front, rear, and sides to keep it from moving around while you're driving.

6) Drive slowly and carefully when you're transporting the boat trailer. Avoid abrupt starts and pauses, and take special care when turning.

7) If you need to cross a vehicular bridge, check the posted weight limits. Most bridges in the United States have a posted weight limit of 20 tons, but some have lower limits.

Other Considerations of Transporting a Fish Boat

Consider the following to ensure you are well-prepared to transport your boat:


If the weather is poor, it may be best to wait until it clears before attempting to transport your boat.

Check the route

Avoid any regions that have a reputation for being particularly challenging to navigate. If you have any concerns about the voyage, get advice from someone familiar with the area.

Carry emergency equipment

This includes things like extra rope, flares, and a first aid kit. Your boat fishing trips and transport plans can go more smoothly and safely if you are well-prepared.

These suggestions should help you transport your fishing boat without any issues. But if you run into problems, don't hesitate to approach an expert for assistance. You can bring your yacht there safely and without any problems with their assistance.

Unloading the Boat

There are a few things to remember when unloading your fishing boat from the truck.

Make sure you're in shallow waters

When you're unloading the fishing boat, you'll want to ensure that you're in shallow waters. It will lessen the likelihood of the boat overturning.

Use coastal waters

If possible, try to use coastal waters when unloading the fishing boat. The boat will be kept stable by the waves and currents.

Use a ramp

A ramp will help to prevent the fishing boat from tipping over when it's being unloaded.

Be careful of the wind

The wind can be a factor when unloading a fishing boat. Remember this and exercise caution when there are wind gusts.

Seek assistance

Having assistance is usually recommended when unloading a fishing boat. It will help to prevent any accidents.

Take your time

Don't rush when unloading the fishing boat. Instead, be cautious and take your time.

What Are the Risks of Transporting a Fishing Boat?

There are numerous risks associated with moving a fishing boat. These include:

Getting pulled over without a valid fishing license

If you are found fishing without the proper documentation, you risk steep fines and even jail time. To avoid this risk, ensure you have a valid fishing license before transporting your boat.

Exceeding the 24-hour period allowed for transport

If you're caught transporting your boat for more than 24 hours, you could face fines and other penalties. Therefore, ensure you only transport your boat for the allowed period.

Risks associated with the types of fishing boats you're transporting

For example, if you're transporting a motorized fishing boat, you could be fined for exceeding the maximum speed limit. Make sure you know the laws and guidelines for the type of fishing boat you are hauling.

Conditions of the road you're transporting your boat

For example, if you're transporting your boat on a dirt road, you could damage your boat's hull. To avoid this risk, make sure you're familiar with the conditions of the road you're transporting your boat on.

You can lessen the hazards of carrying a fishing boat by paying attention to the advice in this article. But remember to ask a professional for assistance if you encounter any problems.

How Do You Reduce the Cost of Transporting a Fishing Boat?

Transporting a fishing boat can be expensive, particularly if you have to transport it over long distances. There are a few options to reduce the cost of transporting your fishing boat:

  • Use Fish Department vehicles. Fish Department vehicles are typically larger and accommodate more boats than regular vehicles.
  • Use an alternative body of water such as inland waters like lakes whenever possible because they are typically less expensive to transport fishing boats than open water.
  • Use water sports equipment. Water sports equipment is designed to be transported over water and can often be used to haul fishing boats.
  • Make use of a boat-transportation professional. These services typically have experience in transporting boats and can often offer discounts for their services.
  • Use a shipping container. Shipping containers can be rented or purchased and can be used to transport fishing boats of all sizes.

What to Do if Your Boat Is Damaged in Transit

If your recreational fishing boat is damaged in transit, here are the seven things you should do:

Immediately take pictures of the damage

This will be important for insurance purposes. Be sure to get close-ups and wide shots showing the entire boat.

Document the damage that has occurred

This is crucial for insurance. Be as specific as possible so that it can tally with the database of fishing vessels.

Contact the company that transported your boat

They will likely have insurance coverage for at least some of the damage.

Contact your insurance company

Your regular homeowners' or renters' insurance may not cover damage to a boat, but you may have a separate policy for your boat. If that is the case, you will need to contact your agent.

Get estimates for repairs

This will be important for insurance purposes and deciding whether or not to repair the damage.

Sell the boat as-is or have the damage repaired

Repairing your recreational fishing boat might not be worth it if the damage is severe. In that case, you may want to sell the boat as is.

Make the necessary repairs or arrangements to sell the boat

Once you have decided what to do, you can proceed with making repairs or arranging to sell the boat.


Transporting recreational fishing boats does take a lot of organization.

But you can ensure that your boat is transported safely and economically by using the advice in this article. And if something goes wrong, you know how to get your boat repaired or compensated for the damage.

Perhaps you prefer to trust an experienced professional to transport your fishing boats safely?

You can count on A-1 Auto Transport for all kinds of boat shipping needs. We have the experience and expertise to get your fishing boat where it needs to go, safely. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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