A Marine Radio allows you to make emergency contacts, communicate with other anglers, and receive weather forecast and warnings. In addition, water patrol and/or coast guard will also have access to your emergency channels. Of course if you choose to use a channel for boat to boat communication you will need to make certain that other boats you are with have a radio also. Most of these radios also have a NOAA Weather Channel, and some provide a jack for an external speaker - just in case you want to be able to broadcast a message to those around you.
Hand held VHF Marine radios work well - PFT has used this with dash mounted version for years. Its range is several miles over open water. It also is able to receive several NOAA Weather radio channels. This is a great resource to have. It is also able to communicate with larger dash mountable units. This can be a great choice to have when on a fishing outing and someone is at a base camp while another boat is on the water with a dash mountable unit. You can reach the home camp if you experience any issues while on the lake.
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We at PFT we have used these Uniden radios along with the hand held above, for several years, for fishing Canadian Lakes as well as lakes throughout KS and MO. They helped us stay in communication with each other as we fished various parts of the lake. Twice in that time we have been able to use them to overcome minor emergencies, such as out of gas, a broken propellor, and one time one of us actually found we were on the wrong side of a railroad draw bridge that had been lowered down blocking passage way after dark. Shown below is the updated version of this Uniden Radio.
There are several manufacturers of these radios. Some offer the ability to link with your GPS to be able to transmit a distress signal along with your GPS coordinates. This feature is more important on open water such as gulf or ocean water where cell coverage is not available. For most inland lakes these radios are important and convenient. Talk to the sporting goods shops and also the dealers at sport shows, and click on the links above to learn more about these great additions to your fishing adventures.