Fishermen were forced to sound the distress signal after their boat lost power, its anchor broke and it started drifting out to sea about 4pm on Wednesday.
Tasmania Police boat Pillara III travelled from Strahan to about one nautical mile off the coast near Hells Gates, the last known location of the fishing boat.
The police boat was unable to locate the fishermen in that area. Police contacted the fishing crew via mobile phone and advised them to use their distress flares.
The fishermen were located about four nautical miles north of Cape Sorell, the boat was drifting quickly in 20 knot southerly conditions, but the Pillara III was able to tow the fishing boat and safely return the fishermen to Macquarie Harbour.
Strahan Marine and Rescue Services Constable Wayne Bradford said a much larger and more expensive search was avoided because those involved were carrying the proper safety equipment.
“This is a great example of a good, safe outcome due to the proper boating safety precautions being taken,” he said.