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Florida Boat Course

Who needs a boating safety education ID card in order to legally operate a vessel?

In order to operate a motorboat of 10 horsepower or greater, Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the FWC.

Florida does not have a "boating license." The Boating Safety Education Identification Card is proof of successful completion of the educational requirements and is valid for life.


Are some people who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 exempt from the above requirements?

Yes, there are some exemptions. The exemptions are listed below.

  • A person licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to serve as master of a vessel.
  • A person operating on a private lake or pond.
  • An operator who is accompanied onboard by a person who is at least 18 years old and possesses the required Boating Safety Education Identification Card, provided that person is attendant to and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel.
  • An operator who is accompanied onboard by a person who is exempt from the educational requirements, provided that person is attendant to and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel.
  • A nonresident who has in his or her possession proof that he or she has completed a NASBLA-approved boater safety course or equivalency examination from another state.
  • A person is operating a vessel within 90 days after the purchase of that vessel and has available for inspection aboard that vessel a bill of sale meeting all the requirements as established in Chapter 328.46(1), Florida Statutes.
  • A person operating a vessel within 90 days after completing an approved boating safety course, as required in Chapter 327.395(1), and has a photographic I.D. and a boater education course completion certificate showing proof of having completed the required boating safety education course. The course completion certificate must provide the student’s first and last name, date of birth, and the date the course was successfully completed.

FLORIDA BOAT SAFETY COURSE CLICK HERE: RULE ONE: SAFETY FIRST! The Renter/Operator is the responsible party above all others. Operating a motor boat improperly could end with personal injury, a fine, and or arrest so please be responsible.NOTE: The Butler Chain of Lakes has a 36-mph speed limit and regulations regarding motor boat operation. These rules are designed not only to promote public safety but also to minimize the destructive impact of motor boats. Excessive speeds in shallow water can erode the shoreline, disturb rooted vegetation and stir up bottom nutrients and sediments. These resuspended bottom nutrients are then returned to the water body's ecosystem and result in increased turbidity.

Some Orange County boating regulations that you should be aware of are:

1. Children under six years of age must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while in a boat.

2. All skiers, knee boarders, etc. must wear a life jacket while being pulled behind the boat.

3. When pulling a person behind the boat, you must have either a wide angle ski mirror or another per-son in the boat.

4. As a courtesy to other boaters when pulling a skier, you should drive in a counter-clockwise direction.

5. Bow riding is prohibited.

6. All boats must contain the proper safety equipment, which depends on the size of the boat. For a complete list of these regulations, contact the Orange County Sheriffs Office Marine Patrol Unit.

7. Operation of a boat or skiing while impaired or intoxicated from alcohol or drugs is prohibited.

8. All mechanically propelled boats must be registered with the state.

9. All canals on the Butler Chain of Lakes have an idle speed or no wake speed limit. This also applies to motoring within 100 feet of the shoreline, weed line or dock extension except while picking up or dropping off a skier.

10. The following regulations apply to the operation of Personal Watercraft:

* No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft in the State of Florida.

*Each person riding on and/or being towed behind such vessel must wear an USCG approved personal flotation device.

*A Personal watercraft must at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner.

For a complete listing of regulations regarding Personal Watercraft, contact the Orange County Sheriffs Office Marine Patrol Unit.

BOAT RENTALS Does your boating experience comply with all local requirements?
This page explains Florida's requirements and does not include all Federal requirements. You can learn the requirements in our Boating Skills and Seamanship course.
Age Restrictions:

Persons less than 14 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft. No person younger than 18 can rent a PWC.

No person born after see above, may operate a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater unless he or she has in their possession a photographic identification and a boater safety identification card issued for successful completion of a Coast Guard approved boating safety course. Take our course to meet this requirement!

Personal Flotation Devices:

Every child under 6 years of age must wear a US Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (Life Jacket) on a vessel less than 26' while the vessel is underway.

PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD. Inflatable life jackets are prohibited when water skiing or operating a PWC.

Required PFDs must be readily accessible.

Personal Watercraft:

Persons less than 14 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC). You must be at least 18 to rent a PWC in Florida. PWCs may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Each person on a Personal Watercraft must wear a Coast Guard approved PFD (inflatable's are prohibited). Additionally, the operator must wear a lanyard type cut off switch provided by the manufacturer which will shut off the PWC should the operator fall off.

The operator of a Personal Watercraft should operate in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close, or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).

Speed Limits and Reckless Operation:

Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as "Idle Speed - No Wake" must operate at the minimum speed that will maintain steerageway.

Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as "Slow Down - Minimum Wake" must operate fully off plane and completely settled in water. The vessel's wake must not be excessive nor create a hazard to other vessels.

Anyone who operates a vessel with a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor).

All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, in the presence of a diver-down flag, and other circumstances so as not to endanger other people or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation.

Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation aid or regulatory marker.

A violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also a violation of Florida law.

Manatee Awareness:

Every boater within the State of Florida should be forever mindful of the endangered manatee. One should operate in a prudent manner in and around known manatee habitats and should be cognizant of, and obey, designated manatee zone areas.

Boating While Intoxicated:

It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to a sobriety test and a chemical test to determine blood or breath alcohol content.

In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol content is at or above .08 percent.

Navigation Rules:

The State of Florida adopts and enforces all Federally mandated boating safety laws.

Every vessel operating in the State of Florida shall carry and use safety equipment in accordance with U. S. Coast Guard requirements as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations. Additionally, every vessel shall display the lights and shapes required by the navigation rules.

Diving and Snorkeling:

The size of divers-down flags displayed on vessels should be 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats may still be 12 by 12. Also, divers-down flags on vessels must be displayed so that the flag's visibility is not obstructed.

Divers shall attempt to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets and navigation channels. Vessels should stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down flag.

On all waters other than rivers, inlets or navigation channels, divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 300 feet of the divers-down flag; vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of 300 feet on these waters.

Vessels may approach within 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets and navigation channels of a divers-down flag only at idle speed; approaching at higher speed is reckless operation.

Divers shall not, except in case of emergency, display the divers-down flag in an area which would constitute a navigational hazard.

Water Skiing:

The operator of a vessel towing someone on skies or another aquaplaning device must either have an observer, in addition to the operator, on board who is attendant to the actions of the skier or have and use a wide-angle rearview mirror.

No one may ski or aquaplane between the hours of 1/2 hour past sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

No one may water ski or use another aquaplaning device unless they are wearing a USCG approved type I, II, III or non-inflatable type V personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are prohibited.

No one may ski or use another aquaplaning device while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

The operator of a vessel towing a skier may not pull the skier close enough to a fixed object or another vessel that there is risk of collision.

Accident Reporting:

Any accident involving death, disappearance or personal injury, or damage greater than $500 must be reported. A "boating accident" includes, but is not limited to, capsizing, collision, foundering, flooding, fire, explosion and the disappearance of a vessel other than by theft. Accidents should be reported immediately. Report accidents by the quickest means possible to one of the following: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred, or the police chief of the municipality in which the accident occurred, if applicable.

It is unlawful for any person operating a vessel involved in a boating accident to leave the scene without giving all possible aid to the involved persons and without reporting the accident to the proper authorities.

Registration/Documentation:

All vessels operated on the waters of Florida must be registered and/or numbered in Florida, except as follows:

  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes or ponds
  • Vessels owned by the Federal Government
  • Vessels used exclusively as life boats
  • Non-motor powered vessels
  • Vessels with a current number from another state or country temporarily using Florida waters. (Less than 90 consecutive days.)
  • Vessels newly purchased in Florida (less than 30 days).
  • All registrations must be renewed each year in the birth month of the owner. Apply for your title and registration with the state tax collectors.

In addition, all vessels, except documented vessels and non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet, must be titled in Florida.

You will need to know your Hull I.D. number to title and register your boat. If you have a homemade boat, contact the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or your tax collector's office for a HIN.

Upon registration, you will be issued a certificate of number and a validation decal. The certificate must be on board whenever the boat is used. The boat's number must be properly displayed as follows on both port and starboard side.

The validation decal must be displayed within six inches of the number on the port side either before or after the numbers.

This page is only a summary of Florida laws. They are subject to change. It is the responsibility of the operator to be aware of the most current laws when using a boat. Certain bodies of water in Florida may have local restrictions as to type and size of watercraft or motor horsepower, restricted use areas, boat speed, and times for use. Check with the local authorities for these additional restrictions. To learn the laws in their entirety, contact:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 S. Meridian Street
Tallahassee FL 32399-1600
850-488-4676
Take our Boating Skills and Seamanship course.   Boating Laws Orange County Boating Regulations   Generally. (1) All boats shall carry the safety equipment required by F.S. § 327.50. Each child under the age of six (6) years who is a passenger in a boat shall wear a Coast Guard approved lifesaving device at all times. (2) Each person being towed by a boat shall wear a Coast Guard approved Type I, II or III lifesaving device suitable for such use. The provisions of this subsection (2) do not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person preparing to participate or participating in an official regatta, boat race, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition. (b) Class A motorboats. All Class A motorboats (those motorboats less than sixteen (16) feet in length) shall have the following safety and lighting equipment: (1) Safety equipment: a.  One (1) wearable lifesaving device in good and serviceable 1. condition approved by the Coast Guard per each person aboard. 2. Each person being towed by a motorboat shall wear a Coast Guard approved Type I, II or III lifesaving device suitable for such use. The provisions of this subsection 2. do not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person preparing to participate or participating in an official regatta, boat race, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition. b. One (1) oar or paddle. Personal watercraft are exempt from this provision. c. One (1) anchor and line in appropriate size and length. Personal watercraft are exempt from this provision. d. One (1) Coast Guard approved or Underwriters' Laboratory "Marine Type," Class B, Size I fire extinguisher. This is not required on boats propelled by outboard motor and not carrying passengers for hire, if the motorboat is of open construction. (2) Lighting requirements. Between sunset and sunrise the following lights shall be required: a. One (1) white light aft, such light not to be obstructed by any part of the vessel so as to be visible in all directions. b. One (1) combination red and green light on fore part of boat showing green to starboard (right) and red to port (left), so fixed as to show the light from dead ahead to ten (10) points off the beam on their respective sides. c. Any boat may carry and exhibit the lights required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea in lieu of the lights prescribed in this section. (c) Class I Motorboats. All Class I motorboats (motorboats sixteen (16) feet or greater in length) shall have the following safety and lighting equipment: (1)

Safety equipment: a.  One (1) wearable lifesaving device in good serviceable 1. condition, approved by the Coast Guard for each person on board and one (1) Coast Guard approved throwable flotation device in each boat. 2. Each person being towed by a motorboat shall wear a Coast Guard approved Type I, II or III lifesaving device suitable for such use. The provisions of this subsection 2. do not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person preparing to participate or participating in an official regatta, boat race, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition. b. One (1) Coast Guard approved or Underwriters' Laboratory "Marine Type," Class B, Size I fire extinguisher. This is not required on boats propelled by an outboard motor and not carrying passengers for hire, if the motorboat is of open construction. c. One (1) anchor and line of appropriate size and length. d. One (1) hand- or power-operated whistle or horn capable of producing a blast of two-second duration and audible for a distance of one-half mile. (2) Lighting requirements. Between sunset and sunrise the following lights shall be required: a. One (1) white light aft, such light not to be obstructed by any part of the vessel so as to be visible in all directions. b. One (1) combination red and green light on fore part of boat showing green to starboard (right) and red to port (left), so fixed as to show the light from dead ahead to ten (10) points off the beam on their respective sides. c. Any motorboat may carry and exhibit lights required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea in lieu of the lights prescribed in this section. (d) All boats—Night light. Between sunset and sunrise every boat or motorboat shall carry a lighting device capable of shining a white light around the horizon (three hundred sixty (360) degrees) and shall display such light in sufficient time as to avoid a collision with another vessel. (e) Same—Lifesaving devices. Every boat or motorboat shall be equipped with at least one (1) adequate wearable lifesaving device for every occupant. (Code 1965, § 4-4 ; Ord. No. 83-37, § 4, 9-19-83; Ord. No. 85-29, § 1, 10-7-85; Ord. No. 87-20, § 1, 6-29-87; Ord. No. 95-19, § 2, 7-25-95) Sec. 8-31. - General operation of boats and personal watercraft. (a) All boats and motorboats shall, whenever possible, keep at least three hundred (300) feet behind any boat towing a skier and shall stay clear of, by at least one hundred (100) feet, any boat or motorboat anchored or used for fishing. When a ski jump is in use, all other boats shall, whenever possible, stay at least one hundred (100) feet away on either side and five hundred (500) feet behind the ski jump. (b) No person shall operate any boat recklessly, overload any boat, indulge in any motorboat race, make sudden turns at excessive speed, follow too closely to other boats, or operate any boat in such a way that it may endanger other boats, life or property. (c) All motorboat operators shall sit within the confines of the boat and shall require that their passengers do likewise. Bowriding and gunwhale riding are strictly prohibited. (d) Care shall be taken by the operators of all motorboats and personal watercraft to prevent damage from their wash, bow wave or stern wave, or from objects towed by such boats to other boats, docks, piers, shorelines and boathouses. Boats, motorboats and personal watercraft shall not create a wake while operating within a canal, or within one hundred (100) feet of the shoreline, docks, piers, bridges or boathouses, or any other object arising from the water (excluding ski jumps or slalom courses) except when picking up or dropping off a waterskier. The one hundred-foot distance shall be measured from the boat, motorboat or personal watercraft itself or from any extension thereof, including but not limited to, a skier, aquaplane or other device being towed. (e) All boats and motorboats towing water skiers, aquaplanes or other devices shall operate in a counterclockwise direction of the waterway whenever possible. (Code 1965, § 4-5 ; Ord. No. 83-37, § 5, 9-19-83; Ord. No. 95-19, § 3, 7-25-95) Sec. 8-32. - Speed limits; posting. The board of county commissioners may, by resolution, impose a speed limit on any waterway when it is determined that a speed limit is necessary to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the county. Such speed limit shall be lawfully posted in or near the waterway in a location to be visible to the public. (Code 1965, § 4-6; Ord. No. 83-37, § 6, 9-19-83) State law reference— Violation of speed limits, F.S. § 327.33(2). Sec. 8-33. - Personal watercraft. (a) Personal watercraft under power shall keep at least three hundred (300) feet behind any boat towing a skier and shall stay clear of, by at least one hundred (100) feet, any vessel anchored or used for fishing or otherwise not under power. When a ski jump is in use, all personal watercraft shall stay clear of the area three hundred (300) feet on either side and five hundred (500) feet ahead of, and five hundred (500) feet behind, the ski jump. (b) Personal watercraft are prohibited on ski jumps not explicitly designated for their use. (c) No person shall create a wake while operating a personal watercraft within one hundred (100) feet of any persons in the water. (d) No person shall operate a personal watercraft while exceeding the manufacturer's recommended maximum weight or number of occupants. (Ord. No. 95-19, § 4, 7-25-95) Sec. 8-34. - Swimmers and skin divers. (a) No person shall swim from the shore more than one hundred (100) feet unless accompanied by a boat or identified by a standard buoy and flag. (b) No person shall scuba or skin dive unless identified by a standard scuba or skin diving flag.   BOATING REGULATIONS Some Orange County boating regulations that you should be aware of are: 1. Children under six years of age must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while in a boat. 2. All skiers, knee boarders, etc. must wear a life jacket while being pulled behind the boat. 3. When pulling a person behind the boat, you must have either a wide angle ski mirror or another per-son in the boat. 4. As a courtesy to other boaters when pulling a skier, you should drive in a counter-clockwise direction. 5. Bow riding is prohibited. 6. All boats must contain the proper safety equipment, which depends on the size of the boat. For a complete list of these regulations, contact the Orange County Sheriffs Office Marine Patrol Unit. 7. Operation of a boat or skiing while impaired or intoxicated from alcohol or drugs is prohibited. 8. All mechanically propelled boats must be registered with the state. 9. All canals on the Butler Chain of Lakes have an idle speed or no wake speed limit. This also applies to motoring within 100 feet of the shoreline, weed line or dock extension except while picking up or dropping off a skier. 10. The following regulations apply to the operation of Personal Watercraft: * No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft in the State of Florida. *Each person riding on and/or being towed behind such vessel must wear an USCG approved personal flotation device. *A Personal watercraft must at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner.

          • For a complete listing of regulations regarding Personal Watercraft, contact the Orange County Sheriffs Office Marine Patrol Unit.

Florida State Specific Laws

Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs are prohibited for personal watercraft use.

The operator of a personal watercraft must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard (if equipped by the manufacturer) to his/her person, clothing or PFD.

Personal watercraft may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if navigation lights are used. Remember, both federal and state law requires the use of navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.

Maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).

A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida.

A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft in Florida.

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 HP or more in Florida. Identification cards for persons completing the course or the equivalency exam are good for a lifetime. Temporary Certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for 12 months from the issue date.

Boater Education

Anyone 21 years of age and under, who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more engine is required to have a boater education card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel. Identification cards for PWC/boat operators completing the course are good for a lifetime. Temporary certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for a period of 12 months from the issue date.

A person is exempt from this requirement if there is a person on board who is not affected by this law and who is attendant to and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel. Also exempted from boater education requirements are persons licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel, people operating on a private lake or pond and people who are nonresident and have proof of completion of a NASBLA approved course from another state.

PFDs

Florida law requires a child under 6 years of age to wear a U.S.C.G. approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (life jacket) on a boat less than 26-feet long while the boat is underway. "Underway" is defined as anytime except when the vessel is anchored, moored, made fast to the shore, or aground.

Each person operating or riding on a personal watercraft must wear an approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device. Inflatable personal flotation devices are prohibited. The operator of a personal watercraft must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard (if equipped by the manufacturer) to his/her person, clothing, or PFD.

PWC/Boat Rental

A person must be at least 18 years old to rent a PWC in Florida. A rental facility shall not rent any vessel that does not have proper safety equipment on board, exceeds the recommended engine horsepower or load capacity (as stated on the capacity plate), or is not seaworthy. The facility must provide pre-rental or pre-ride instruction on the safe operation of the vessel if it has a motor of 10 horsepower or more. All renters that are required by law to have a boater education ID card, must have the card or its equivalent in their possession and display it before the facility may rent to them. PWC rentals must provide an on-the-water demonstration and a check ride to evaluate the proficiency of renters. All liveries must display boating safety information in a place visible to the renting public. PWC rentals must display safety information on the proper operation of a PWC. The information must include: propulsion, steering and stopping characteristics of jet pump vessels, the location and content of warning labels, how to properly re-board a PWC. This instruction also must include the applicable Navigational Rules to PWC operation, problems with visibility and being seen by other boaters, reckless operation, noise, nuisance, and environmental concerns while operating the PWC on Florida waters.

Reckless & Careless Operation

You must operate a PWC in a reasonable and prudent manner. Anyone who operates a PWC or boat with a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor). All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, in the presence of a divers-down flag, and other circumstances so as to not endanger other people or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation. Maneuvers which unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb or property are classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor) as provided in Florida State Statute 327.33(1). This includes, but is not limited to, a personal watercraft by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close, or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision. A violation of federal navigational rules is also a violation of Florida law.

Idle Speed No Wake

 

Idle Speed No Wake can be best described as the slowest speed that a PWC or vessel can travel and still allow the operator to maintain steerage, headway, and control of the vessel and any object he may have under tow.

For a PWC or typical small recreational vessel this is a speed of idle. The operator may find the PWC or vessel to be slower to respond and may require the operator to prepare for maneuvers such as turning or docking.

Slow Speed Minimum Wake

 

Slow Speed Minimum Wake is best described as a speed where the PWC or vessel is fully off a plane, fully settled in the water and producing a minimum wake. This speed will vary from vessel to vessel and will depend on the size, weight and hull design of the vessel. Your vessel should not produce a wake that creates a hazardous condition that endangers or is likely to endanger or damage other vessels or endanger other persons using the waterway.

Maximum Miles Per Hour

 

Many Florida waters regulate the maximum speed for PWC's or vessels. These are posted in Miles Per Hour which is the speed a vessel travels over the bottom, measured in statute miles. The vessel still is required to be operated at a safe speed, not produce a excessive wake or operate at a speed that causes the bow of the vessel to be elevated restricting the operators visibility.

A PWC or vessel's speed can by calculated by timing the vessel when it travels through a measured mile course at a constant RPM. Divide 60 by this time (in minutes) to get your approximate speed in miles per hour. Calculate your speed at various RPM's and keep the list on the vessel for reference. A GPS unit may also tell you the speed of your vessel.

No Entry Zone or No Entry Area

 

PWC or vessel travel is prohibited either year around or seasonally on some Florida waterways. This also includes persons swimming, diving, wading or fishing using poles equipped with a fishing line retrieval mechanism or reel. An example of an area where you might find a No Entry Area or Zone is a warm water discharge canal at a power plant where entry is prohibited during the winter months.

Examples of regulatory signs

 

Above are examples of regulatory signs you may encounter in Florida waters. They may be displayed on a buoy or on a fixed sign piling or post. It is the responsibility of the PWC or vessel operator or person to be aware of entry or speed regulations for the waters in which they are operating. These regulations are in effect for the protection of the Florida Manatee.

Impaired Operation

It is a violation of Florida law to operate a PWC or other vessel while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to a sobriety test and a chemical test to determine blood or breath alcohol content. In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol content is at or above .08 percent. Any person under 21 years of age, who is found to have a breath alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law.

Mooring To Markers and Buoys

Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation aid or regulatory marker. It is also unlawful for any person to anchor or operate a vessel in a manner which will unreasonably interfere with the navigation of other vessels.

Manatees & Sea Grass

Manatees are protected by state and federal law. It is illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal including manatees. Anything that disrupts a manatee's normal behavior is a violation of the law, punishable under federal law up to a $50,000 fine, one year imprisonment or both. Boaters must observe all manatee regulatory zone requirements. Also, sea grasses are the principal food for endangered marine herbivores such as manatees and green sea turtles. They act as natural filters to help purify the water, and provide a suitable environment for a wide variety of marine life. PWC operators and other boaters should make all available attempts to avoid running through grass beds. It is considered a violation to damage sea grass beds in some areas within state waters. Navigation charts identify sea grass beds as light green or marked as "grs" on the chart. Boaters should make all possible attempts to stay within channels when unfamiliar with a waterway. Avoid taking shortcuts through sea grass beds to avoid causing propeller scars.

Things To Remember

When out on the water, remember you are sharing it with others. Keep a sharp lookout for other boats, skiers, and other hazards. A little common sense will go a long way in preventing mishaps. The future of personal watercraft sports will be dependent upon the caution and courtesy of PWC operators. Last but not least HAVE FUN while enjoying what Daytona Jetski has to offer you

Bass Fishing Tips For Beginners

Bass are America’s most popular freshwater sport fish and a national institution when it comes to fishing. There are bass fishing tournaments, bass fishing shops and websites devoted to bass fishing – so we thought we’d get fishing guide and resident expert Shawn Chapin to explain its appeal and provide some bass fishing tips for beginners by answering these 11 bass fishing questions below.

1. Why is bass fishing so popular?

There are many reasons! Bass are found in abundance in every single state in the continental United States. They are found in almost every body of water that fish can survive in with very few exceptions and they can tolerate a wide variety in the water temperature.

When you put together the abundance of fish with the fact that they are relatively easy to catch (and put up a good fight for their size), it is easy to see why bass fishing is popular. Bass – either largemouth, smallmouth or spotted – give anglers from beginner to elite level a fun and exciting time on the water.

2. Why is bass fishing so fun?

Bass fishing for beginners is fun they are an exciting fish to catch and you can fish for them using a variety of tactics and a range of bass fishing lures from soft plastics (especially combined with scents), jigs, crankbaits and topwater lures too.

Another reason bass fishing is so fun and popular is because of the ease of entry-level fishing. Compared to other species like walleye, or especially musky, bass are reasonable easy to tempt. And with the abundance of bass in most bodies of water, you could be consistently catching them all day.

3. What types of bass are there? And where are they found?

The most common bass found in the United States is the largemouth bass, but there are also spotted and smallmouth bass as well.
Largemouth bass are found in every state in the continental United States. They can also be found naturally in northern Mexico and the southern half of Canada. They have also been stocked in other parts of the world such as Japan, where they are now a popular sport fish for Japanese anglers. (For a fascinating look at bass fishing in Japan check out this article).
Spotted bass inhabit a smaller portion of the United States, and can be found from the gulf coast of Texas across the southern states to Florida, and up to the Ohio River and Mississippi River basins.
Smallmouth bass are naturally occurring in the northern areas of the United States and Canada, but over the years they have been stocked in lakes all over the United States west and south of their native ranges.
Check out our fishing locations page for more detail on the best bass fishing spots in the US.

The largemouth bass is a key target for the majority of US anglers

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An angler with a smallmouth bass – another popular species for American anglers

4. What type of habitat do bass like?

The preferred habitat of bass varies not only by bodies of water you’re fishing for them in, but also by species.
Largemouth bass are commonly found around vegetation, timber or drop offs – good areas for bass can be found using a fish finder.
Smallmouth can be found in all the same areas but also like structure such as deep rock piles and rubble, or shoreline rip rap. Smallmouth bass are also found in a lot of clear lakes and reservoirs and tend to live deeper in those bodies of water.
Spotted bass can be found in all the same places as largemouth bass, but also like to inhabit areas that are warm, turbid and slow moving that largemouth bass would avoid. Spotted bass can also be found in areas of faster current – again, that’s a spot that largemouth bass would normally avoid. For learning to pick out bass on a fish finder, check out our guide to reading fish finder images.

A bass in typical bass structure near a submerged log. Targeting structure like this is one of the best bass fishing tips

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5. What is the best gear to use for bass fishing?

Sorting out a good rod and reel is a top priority for bass fishing for beginners. The common rods and reels used in bass fishing are baitcaster rods and reels (check our summary of the best baitcasting reels if you are looking to buy one). Spinning rods (our best spinning rods for bass are listed here) and spinning reels are also popular too. Spinning reels are easier to use and should be the first choice for beginners.

Similiarly when it comes to choice of fishing line, a good monofilament line if probably best for beginners as you don’t have the issues you can have with braided line tangling and it is cheaper than fluoro line. [For help with the 7 basic fishing knots beginners should know, check out this post which has full tying instructions and illustrations and covers the top knots for each type of fishing line.]

Normally a bass angler has a variety of types and sizes of outfit to cover multiple different tactics and situations. These can include a jigging rod or a fiberglass rod for fishing for bass with crankbaits. When you are starting out, it’s a good idea to choose one of the best bass attractants to put on your bass fishing lures to help your catch rate. Check our our guide to the best lure kits for bass fishing for some cheap ways to assemble a decent arsenal of bass fishing lures for your tackle box.

An overall rod and reel combination for all around fishing once you get a bit more experience would be something like a seven foot heavy baitcasting rod with a fast action paired with a baitcasting reel in the 6.4.1 gear ratio and spooled with some 16-pound fluorocarbon fishing line.

6. What are the best seasons to fish for bass?

One of the best bass fishing beginner tips is to pick the best time of year to fish. Bass fishing is primarily the best in spring and summer as the water temperature warms up. Big bass move up into the shallows to spawn in the spring making beds to lay eggs.

This can make them easy to target for beginners, but catch-and-release fishing during this time is strongly recommended, as smaller fish will eat the eggs in an unprotected bed.
Summer bass are found widely in a variety of locations from the same shallow areas where they spawned through to deeper weeds and drop-offs.

7. What are the best times of day to fish for bass?

Like most fish, bass feed more actively in the morning hours and in the evening and these are top times for targeting big bass. But bass are known for still feeding pretty consistently throughout the day. They can be tempted with lures throughout the day, especially if you are fishing something like jigs or plastic worms in cover.

8. What is the best weather for bass fishing?

For bass, like most species, weather details such as wind and water temperatures have a major impact on their feeding habits and their location in a given body of water.
Approaching storms or changes in atmospheric pressure can cause a spike in fish feeding activity.
High wind days can make it difficult to use some of the more popular tactics for catching bass, like fishing jigs or soft plastic worms, as the wind creates a big bow in the fishing line and makes it difficult to sense strikes. Remember to choose a heavier jig head to punch through the wind if you are fishing soft plastic worms or other soft baits on these days.

But wind can also be a fisherman’s friend. Bass will use wind direction to their advantage when feeding and hone in on structure and weedlines where the wind is pushing waves onto the pieces of structure or blowing into the weedlines. This wave action jostles the water around and makes it hard for bait fish to swim and evade predators. And it pushes them near the ambush positions of a predatory fish such as bass. Find these sort of spots is one of the best bass fishing tips for beginners.

Before a storm comes in can be an excellent time to be on the water and these periods offer excellent bass fishing for beginners. Generally any time the barometric pressure increases or decreases can be good.. After a storm has passed and high pressure and clear skies return, can indicate that fishing for the next day or two might be pretty tough. Your best tactic in these situations is to fish slop or heavy cover with jigs and get reaction strikes, as most fish will be laying low for the next one or two days.

What type of lures should beginners use?

We recommend using soft plastic lures to target bass for beginners for a few reasons. First of all, they are cheap compared to crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater lures. If you lose a soft plastic lure, you just tie on another jig head and pull another worm or crawdad out and thread it on. Whereas with other types of lures, you are up for at least $10 to replace them. Jig heads are very cheap and if you really want to save money you can make your own soft plastics with some of the kits on offer.

‘Before a storm comes in can be an excellent time to be on the water, and generally any time the barometric pressure increases or decreases’

9. Do you need a boat to fish for bass?

Absolutely not. And let’s face it, most beginners are going to rush out and buy a boat before trying bass fishing from the shore. While having an awesome bass boat or kayak to fish from gives you more options in the form of mobility on the water and the ability to fish midlake structure, people who want to fish for bass from shore have a ton of options! Since bass have a tendency to stay fairly shallow for most of the year, fishing from shore can be pretty productive. Bass love hanging out under docks, pontoons, lilypads and wood along a shoreline. Targeting structure is one of the best bass fishing tips for beginners. Tie on a skirted jig, or a Texas rigged soft plastic, or for an even more exciting time, slap on a topwater lure and have a blast!

Bass don’t have sharp teeth, but watch out for the trebles on the lure when you are handling them and support their stomach Consider a Boga Grip or alternative grips to be safe.
Top bass fishing pro Mike Iaconelli shares his best lures for bass. This is one of the best ways to fish for bass!

10. What about hooking, fighting, and handling bass?

There are a few bass fishing tips for beginners to pay attention to when it comes to hooking and fighting bass:

When fishing jigs, keep your rod tip at no more than roughly a 45 degree angle point up and keep tension on your line so you can feel a bite. When a bass bites, don’t immediately set the hook – bass have a tendency to hold on to it, so give it a few seconds before you set that hook. But the obvious and general rule of thumb when fishing other types of lure is when a bass eats your lure, set that hook.

There are a few helpful techniques for fighting bass as well.
In most situations, if you hook a bass it’s going to want to jump. A good tactic to use on a jumping fish is to keep your rod tip low and keep reeling so you don’t don’t allow any slack in your line. This applies for most situations.

The general rule of thumb for crankbait fishing is set the hook in a longer sweeping motion and not as violent of a hookset, while keeping the rod tip low to avoid jumps. This is mostly due to the small treble hooks, and the potential to come out during a hookset or from the fish getting airborne.

Handling a bass is fairly simple: there’s really only two concerns when handling a caught bass, and that is watch out for the dorsal spines on the top of the fish, and watch out for hooks from your lure! A wiggling bass in your hand can put pointy things where you don’t want them to be. When it comes to handling a bass, simply cradle the fish under the belly or grab it by its lower lip with your thumb (or a Boga grip) , bass don’t have big sharp teeth. Their teeth and lips are actually like sandpaper to help them grip and hang onto prey.

11. Is catch and release important?

Catch and release is a very important practice in angling to help sustain a stable fisheries population. Government agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and state bodies set regulations on fish size and quantities an angler is allowed to harvest. But over the years, with more and more fishing pressure, most sporting anglers fishing for fish such as bass, walleye, and muskie have transformed their perception of what angling is all about. The good news is that catch and release for sport fish is becoming the new normal. There is nothing wrong with taking home a fish dinner! But the key is to only take what you need. We need more fish in lakes and less filling up basement freezers.

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