Let’s face it, when fishing out of a small boat, our cargo capacity is limited during a day on the water. I’ll be the first to admit I prefer to be over-prepared in everything I do. This carries over into our small boat fishing adventures where one never knows what might happen. Having said that, it is equally important to travel light in a small vessel because my goal is to stalk fish in shallow water.
Here’s my list of 5 things I never leave the dock without…
1. Sun, Bug and Foot Protection
Regardless of the weather conditions, I never leave the dock without protection from the sun. On smaller boats, this means good protective clothing, as there is typically no shade provided by the boat. Sunglasses, gloves, hat, buff, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and even a pair of socks are key pieces in my arsenal. With many of the new materials being developed these days, the sun protection can actually double as bug protection.
2. Dry Bag or Dry Storage Area
If you have ever lost a phone, wallet etc. to the water this one is self explanatory, but a dry bag can also double as a safety device. I keep my important documents as well as fishing gear and survival gear in case things go badly. Depending on the duration of my trip, I will carry a fire starter, bottles of water, compact snacks, extra shirt, dry cloth, multi-tool, a compass and a flashlight.
3. Alternate Form of Propulsion
Many of theses small boats are meant to be propelled with a paddle or even a trolling motor, my Gheenoe Classic has a 15-horse power engine, which gives me great range. In my experience it is always good to have multiple options for propulsion especially when fishing shallow water. A push pole is my #1 choice for a couple reasons; one you can cover great distances over shallow flats, and it is extremely stealthy. Sometimes it is too deep to pole though, which is why I also carry a collapsible paddle.
4. A Way to Stop Yourself (Anchor in deep water; Stick-It pin on flats)
When fishing many of us want to explore and “cover turf”, but it is sometimes more effective to let the fish come to you. The anchor or Stick-It pin can come in handy for both stopping when you find fish and waiting for them to come to you. It is also a safety device because if your primary method of propulsion is compromised, you can keep the boat from drifting farther from your final destination.
5. Some Means of Staying in Contact
Though many of us use our fishing time as a chance to get away and escape from the troubles of the world, if things do go “south”, it is good to have a means of staying in contact. You may need to call for help with a cell phone, VHF radio or walkie-talkie. Keep in mind the remoteness of where you’re going. Will there be a phone signal or other boat traffic? A personal locator beacon has become a very affordable back up plan for emergencies. This device calls for help via satellite just like an EPIRB. These items are something I usually try to keep in the dry bag… (if you have lost half the amount of phones I have to the water, you would understand)
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