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Where on a Boat are Gunwales Located?

When you start boating, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the parts of a boat. No matter what types of fishing boats you are on, you probably will never be called “Captain” if you keep calling the front of your boat “the hood” and back, “the trunk.” So let’s cover one of the main parts of a fishing boat design.

If you have gotten caught up watching the popular Major League Fishing TV show, even if you don’t know the parts of a fishing boat, you probably know the answer to “where on a boat are gunwales located?” This new bass tournament format has strict rules for releasing bass, covered at the beginning of every episode. For example, all fish are weighed and released immediately, rather than spending time in a live well prior to being weighed on a stage. Two minute, no fishing penalties are assessed if the bass lands on the floor the fishing boats or if the angler pins the fish against his body. Also, the bass must be released at the boat gunwale height. That is, the upper side of the boat. Dropping the fish in the water while standing will result in a timeout penalty.

While investigating the tournament rules, I noticed that the boat gunwale was written as “gunnel” which at least resembles how it is pronounced. The “w” in this original term is completely ignored and the alternative spelling seems to be increasing despite the confusion that there also is a small fish called a gunnel.

So, where on a boat are gunwales located? The same place as the gunnel: right along the top edge of the boat. When you register your boat, you may receive a booklet which includes a boat diagram as a helpful reminder of this and other boat terms so don’t let it make you stern.


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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.