It is always best to prepare for the unexpected. Planning your trip in advance to ensure you won’t be without important items will result in a safer and more enjoyable day. After all, you do want to have fun, relax your mind while at sea and maximize your chances to Get ‘Em On Dood!
Variables that are out of your control:
Weather – Knowing the weather report for the day is crucial, for both you and the fish. Conditions on land can be very different from weather conditions out on the water, especially the further offshore you travel. From sunny and hot to cold and windy with rough seas, weather conditions can change quickly!
The last thing you want to happen is to cut your day short by not preparing for the weather or end up having to get rescued.
Windy days can cause rough weather and boat spray and rain can occur at any time. Pack a poncho and an extra set of dry clothes; layering is good idea and here’s a tip: rain jackets double as windbreakers!
Regarding the fish: wind, rain, air and water temperature have a lot of influence on how they’ll behave. Knowing what you’ll encounter and how the fish will respond will help you plan your trip.
The Sun – To avoid sun (and wind burn) cover your neck, ears, face, and any other exposed skin with 30+ Waterproof SPF. Sun gloves for both hands are underused for protecting hands from sun and windburn, get some and use them no matter who make fun of you for being “over-prepared”! ☺
Always carry extra clothing as well as spare hat and sunglasses to protect you from sun, and wind (as well as rain or a sudden drop in temperature). Lightweight long pants, lightweight long sleeved shirt that will dry quickly are a must.
Mosquitos/Insects – Have you ever gotten slammed by a swarm of mosquitos or other flying biters? Welcome to a jungle nightmare on a hot, humid day, yikes! You have no option of walking indoors into your cool, climate-controlled comfort zone. \
Don’t increase your chances of becoming a snack out there! Use bug repellent, wear long pants and long sleeved shirts every day, and a hat! Cool neck wraps are a great invention! They cover and cool as well as block those annoying little snack seekers!
Rain – Rain can occur at any time. Bring waterproof/ splash-proof bags for your essentials like your phone, camera and extra clothes.
If you get caught in the rain or hit by a massive spray or run into a sizeable swell, you’re day can ruin if you didn’t plan ahead, especially if you’re miles from shore. Again, have a small, plastic poncho on hand to keep you from getting soaked when the elements conspire against you.
Tides – Tidal movement affects just about every type of saltwater fishing venue except the blue waters in the offshore open waters. In order to optimize your angling success, use the changing of the tides to your advantage. It is a good idea to arrive at your target fishing destination at least an hour before the high tide is scheduled to peak.
Tidal movement is one of the most important factors to fishing success. Tides move water, and moving water means moving baitfish. And the fish we’re trying to catch are always looking for moving bait. Reading the charts can be tricky, however. Highs and
Understanding tidal currents and how they affect the area is critical. Movement of water does not always follow high and low tides exactly. In inlets and channel entrances, the tidal current may lag the actual tide by an hour or more. In such areas, fish are likely to respond more to the direction and speed of water movement than to the actual height of the tide. In open water the height of the tide can be the most important!
Marine charts – and maps are indispensable for locating fish in places where food is readily available.
Safety & Protection from the Elements – Sport fishing, like any sport, has some rare but inherent risks of injury from hooks, sinkers, fish spines, etc., and many anglers will also bring protective eyewear/goggles, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, and other safety gear
Clothing – Don’t want to beat this into the ground but layer up and take extra clothes made of quick drying materials. Dull or muted colors like olive or khaki are less visible to fish. Light colors absorb less heat.
Shoes – Closed-toe, non-skid shoes tennis shoes, deck boots or even rain boots. Your shoes and the deck will most likely get wet, so non-slip soles are essential.
Sunglasses – Glasses with side shading are desirable. A strap is helpful for taking glasses on and off and for keeping them on. Polarized sunglasses are so indispensable when fishing the flats; bring 2 pair (one for back up). Amber/Brown lenses are the best all around option.
Yellow lenses are good for flat, low-light conditions such as early or late in the day, cloudy or rainy days. Grey lenses are good under extremely bright, high-contrast conditions.
Water/Food – Take plenty of drinking water! Nuts, seeds, protein bars and beef jerky are ideal on the water. It won’t really matter if they get wet, take up little space, lighten your load and you will have enough food to take the edge off and energy from the protein.
Water Proof Bags – Have enough for anything and everything you don not want to get wet ie: camera, flashlight, maps, cell phones, food, medication, towels/paper towels, speaker, radio…
Ice Chest /Cooler – For drinking water, perishables like those you intend to transport back home, the FISH that you have gotten on dood!
First Aid Kit – Sport fishing, like any sport, has some rare but inherent risks of injury from hooks, sinkers, fish spines, etc., and many anglers will also bring protective eyewear/goggles, long-sleeve
Items should include Band-Aids, antibacterial ointment, adhesive tape, etc. *Transderm II or Dramamine for seasickness, aspirin, Advil, antihistamines, antibiotics etc. *Seasickness can occur, even in calm weather conditions. If you do not know if you are susceptible to motion sickness, pack appropriate medication just in case!
Camera Gear – Waterproof bag, memory cards, polarizing filter, lens tissue, cleaner, flash, extra camera batteries and accessory batteries
Tape Measure – If you don’t know how long your fish are, you can’t honestly brag about you super angling skills. If you plan on keeping fish, or bragging, you need to know how long they are.
Keeping fish that are below the legal limit will land you into serious trouble with some serious people! Always brush up on current regulations in the area, they can and do change so don’t rely on anyone but yourself to attain this current information.
Three more things to consider that are in your control:
Get a Great Nights Sleep
You can’t control the weather, you can’t control the bites. You can control where you sleep and what you eat. You might not think so, but where you are sleeping and who’s paying for it can affect your morale and performance. If you are staying at a place that’s falling apart, has paper-thin walls or a green pool and is a 30-minute drive from the boat, you might not be the “happy angler” you usually are.
Treat yourself to satisfying breakfasts, nice dinners and a comfortable/clean room to call home each night—especially if the weather conditions are not optimal. After all you’ll be eating nuts and beef jerky all day…
Seek Out Local Intelligence, Human Resources
Do your best to get a general idea of how the fishing has been in the area. Get local intelligence.
If you are fishing in a spot you’ve never fished before, getting some up-to-date local knowledge about where the fish have been caught over the last several days is paramount. The same is true even if you are fishing in your own backyard. Conditions can (and do) change daily. Share your knowledge also; this is the one time in life where nice guys can finish first!
These tips will prepare to make the most of your time on the water, become a better angler and Get Them On Dood.
So review and print this information before each trip, re-checking & replenishing your items. It will be worth it and could save your life or that of a loved one or friend.