Tips for Using Michigan Boat Launches


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A double rainbow over Ludington pier heads

Steelhead season is on. Walleye fishing on the Great Lakes is starting. Summer days on the water are oh so close. With that come long lines at the launches. Nothing is more annoying then wanting to get off the river or lake and someone is causing major delay at the launch. The same goes for wanting to put your boat in the water to get fishing.


I once was getting off the river on a 10-degree day. Everything was frozen, fishing was bad and all I wanted was a nice cup of coffee and a warm meal. We pull up to the launch and there was 1 boat getting pulled out. The guy pulls out his boat and then parks on the launch only 5 feet out of the water. He was still on the incline. He then proceeds to start putting everything away while were all waiting and freezing. While this is going on, another 2 boats pulled up behind me.



A sunset at Crystal Lake Boat Launch

I park my boat and walk up to the guy and asked him to move his boat so we can all get our boats out. He says ok. I go and get my truck. When I get back to the launch the guy moved 5 feet to the right but was still taking up most of the boat launch. I ended up weaving onto the grass into the water and pulled my boat out. Then I park far away from the launch so the others could use the launch. That guy eventually got the clue and moved his boat completely out of the way but it took another boater for him to figure it out


Using the Boat launches in Michigan is not rocket science. With all the boaters we have using the launches, it’s our responsibility to know how to properly use the launches and get in and out as quick as possible. Here are some tips to help you use the launches if you’re a newbie or just don’t know. You do not want to be that guy that everyone watches and laughs at.

Practice before you launch
Practice driving the boat backward in a parking lot; so you can get use to launching your boat. This will help you be more prepared when the boat launches experience heavy use and you are caught in the center. It will also become more second nature to you when your first day of boating shows up.

Practice using the launch
Practice using the launch when it is not busy. If the launch is busy when you show up, try practicing another time.

Prepare your boat while waiting in line or in the parking lot

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Parked at an inland Lake boat launch

If you have your boat ready by the time it’s your turn it will help the line continue to move. If you have a lot of stuff to put in your boat, get it ready while in the parking lot.
If you are not ready when it’s your turn, let the boats behind you go ahead of you.
This help the line move quicker and less people waiting on you.


Don’t hog the launch if two or more boats can be launched at the same time
You would think this was common sense. Make sure to use one side or the other. If you go straight down the center using both sides of the launches, it will slow down the line and piss other boaters off.

Clean up for your boat while waiting
If you have to wait to pull your boat out, clean it while your waiting. Therefore, you’re ready to pull out when it’s your turn. This also means less time in the parking lot creating traffic or using spots that might need to be filled by boaters coming in.

Drop a person off to grab the vehicle
If you have someone you trust to either drive your vehicle or the boat, have someone go grab the vehicle while your waiting. As soon as it’s your turn, you can get the boat on the trailer and out of the water as quick as possible.

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My boat on the Muskegon at the launch

Pull your boat away from the launch after you pull out
This is another practice I see that confuses me and questions other boaters integrity. When you pull your boat out of the water, park your boat in a parking spot away from the launch. Do not use the launch to prepare your boat to hit the road. This will piss off more anglers  by causing them to wait and others will not be happy with you.


Ask for help
If you are struggling, ask for help. Maybe you can’t see what might be stopping your boat from getting in and out of the water while others can.

If we all have a little more respect for each other by learning how to use the launches properly and quickly, it will help keep the line moving at the launch, which will make for a more enjoyable day on the water. This means more people can get in and out of the water quicker.

Have a safe an enjoyable boating season!


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Frankort, Michigan sunset


Thanks for the read! Please make sure to leave a rating and share this article with your friends. It would help me out a lot.

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Photo Cred: Rob Barnes

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