Ramped Up

Boat ramp launching drift boat

The boat ramp etiquette essentials.

The prospect of a relaxing day on the river can quickly turn bitter at the boat ramp. An ever-increasing number of people, with trailers and boats in tow, convene at these multi-use sites, frequently rendering them congested and chaotic. Oftentimes, maintaining the peace at these sites boils down to one simple principle—getting the hell out as quickly as possible. Here’s some basic etiquette and tricks to keep things moving at the put-in.

Locked & Loaded
If you’re in line to wet your watercraft, you’d better be ready to float. That means you’ve already inflated your raft or rigged your driftboat, and all your other gear is in order as well. Do all your prep before you get in line—no, before you even think about getting in line. Rig up off to the side, or at a different campground or pullout altogether.

In & Out
Once your boat hits the water, clear the ramp as soon as possible. If you’re solo, drag your boat clear of the ramp. If you’re with friends, have one of them row a bit downstream, and meet them there once you’ve parked the truck. Same goes for taking out—anchor up before you hit the take-out to get everything prepped for a speedy departure.

Having your furry fishing buddy with you on the river can be great. But if it’s busy at the boat ramp, Bridger needs to be ready to go, just like everyone else. Don’t let him run around freely—it’s frustrating for others, and can be dangerous for him. Keep him on a short leash, or better yet, in the boat or in the car until you’ve cleared the chaos.

Patience, Patience
Accept that other people recreate on Montana’s rivers—a lot of other people. The sight of so many folks at the boat launch can be maddening, even saddening, especially when compared to the past. But remember, all those people want is to be on the river, just like you. So, take a breath, and refrain from screaming or sucker-punching another floater. You’ll be on the water soon enough.