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Fishing From The Boat – Who’s Right?

By June 15, 2023Fishing

Understanding the Legalities of Fishing from a Boat Next to a Dock in Alabama and Florida

I recently took my Dad out fishing in the Gulf. He asked why we were going so far out and not fishing inshore. I said, let’s try something you haven’t done in a long time. As we were preparing to make the trip out into the Gulf, my friend and guide had to stop and pick up his bait trap near a dock not too far from the boat launch. While picking up the trap, we were approached by the dock’s owner. He began asking questions about why we were there and that the area was his and was off-limits. Of course, my friend knowing the law, kindly stated that we had every right to fish there. So that prompted me to write this blog to answer such questions. Who is right?

Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities in the United States, with millions of people indulging in it every year. However, fishing laws can vary widely from state to state and, in some cases, from region to region within a state. One of the most common questions that anglers have is whether it’s legal to fish from a boat next to a dock in Alabama and Florida. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the laws about this topic and answer that very question.

In Alabama, you are allowed to fish from a boat next to a dock under certain conditions. The Alabama Marine Resources Division (AMRD) defines a dock as “any structure extending outward from the shore that is designed or used for purposes related to the commercial or recreational use of the water or land.” According to the AMRD, “vessels may approach within 20 yards of areas marked with white and black regulatory buoys and structures that extend into the water from the land, including piers, docks, and boathouses.”

Florida law also allows fishing from a boat next to a dock. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) states that “unless prohibited by other laws or regulations, it is legal to fish near (conventional fishing only) or under a private dock. Public access to a private dock must be from the water only and not through the adjacent upland property.” Moreover, it is also legal to fish from a public dock or pier in Florida, as well as from shore or the nearshore reefs.

It is important to note that fishing from a boat next to a dock does not give you the right to step onto the dock or go onto the property where the dock is located. Trespassing laws still apply, and anglers should respect private property and avoid entering unless they have the owner’s permission. In fact, it is illegal to anchor, moor, or tie up to a private boat dock or pier without the owner’s permission in both Alabama and Florida.

Licenses and Regulations
It is also worth noting that both Alabama and Florida require all anglers to have the appropriate fishing licenses when fishing from a boat or any other location. Alabama also has specific regulations for certain species, such as a daily limit for saltwater fish, that should be adhered to. Moreover, both states have regulations regarding the use of certain types of fishing gear. It is, therefore, always advisable to review the local fishing laws and regulations before heading out on a fishing trip.

In conclusion, fishing from a boat next to a dock is legal in both Alabama and Florida, as long as you follow certain guidelines. You should stay no closer than 20 yards of areas marked with white and black regulatory buoys and avoid entering onto private property without permission. Also, ensure that you have the proper licenses and follow all local regulations and limitations. Always respect the environment and the rights of others while enjoying this beloved recreational activity. Get outside and take someone fishing!

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