While traditional float-tube and belly-boat anglers are not using officially classified "vessels"--and therefore are not required to carry a life jacket-anglers on the new paddle and oar pontoons are using "vessels" and must carry a life jacket.
For years boaters have been required to carry a life jacket for each person on board. Children under 12 years of age must wear their life jacket. In recent years new technology has provided anglers with smaller floating devices, know as "pontoons," to access their fishing spots. Anglers using small pontoon boats propelled by oars for transportation to their fishing holes are required to carry an U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
According to Beate Galda, Enforcement administrator for FWP, "If an angler is sitting above the water and the vessel is designed to be rowed or paddled, then a life jacket is required on the vessel. And we encourage all float tube and belly boat users to wear a life jackets," she added.
Anglers using float tubes with motors must register the craft and also must carry a life jacket on board, Galda said.
For more information contact your nearest FWP office.