One of the many dilemmas of the shore-bound angler is how much gear is necessary and how to transport it. There are many ways to go, I prefer a carefully organized tackle bag that I can carry via a strap over my shoulder, leaving one hand free to carry two or three rods and the other to brush branches out of the way when necessary.
How much is too much fishing gear to carry while fishing from shore. That’s a purely personal decision, but I like to carry as much gear as I can without putting too much strain on my physical being as I may have to transport my gear as much as three or four miles. My tackle bag is quite hefty, but I generally carry enough variations in lure styles to cover most situations, and I always carry extras of my “go-to” lures. The alternative method is how little can you carry. This works for fishermen who are content to decide ahead of time what type of bait(s) they’ll be using for the day and stick with a handful of baits that may or may not be the ticket to success on any given day.
So what exactly is in my tackle bag? There are four plastic compartmentalized containers in my bag at all times (these can be selected from a multitude of similar containers previously organized for specific types of fishing situations). The four containers that I carry most are one with various size, style, and colors of large tube baits. One box will have various size, style, and colors of my most often used worms. Another will have various surface baits – Bettencourt Baits Assassin, Bettencourt Baits Twitch – n – Go, Pop-R, Moss Boss, Super Frogs, Floating Rapalas, Long A Bombers. The last box is filled with Snagless Sallys (jointed, in-line spinners), large Rooster Tails, Beetle Spins, Johnson Silver Minnows, Strike Works Jigs, a few Thin Fins, some Crankbaits, etc. These four containers take up the mainstay of my bag.
There’s a front pouch that holds a container filled with various types, sizes, and styles of worm hooks and trailer hooks; toothpicks, snaps, and a few finesse type baits. On the top of the bag is another zippered pouch where I keep additional bags of plastic baits and a small container of tiny, tender tubes. There are two zippered pouches on either side of the bag – one contains my safety-pin type spinners and buzz baits, the other a ten foot long heavy cord stringer and a length of rope for emergency use only.
The inside of the bag has additional pouches on the back wall and sides that are open pouches. In these areas, I keep the following items: a compass, a Zip Lock bag with matches or a lighter in it, a tube of Mega Strike scent, a folding fillet knife, a container of 100% DEET bug juice, a pencil and notebook, a variety of flipping jigs, a small container of bullet sinkers, a small container of various jigs for use with tubes, a couple extra spools for the spinning reels, some plastic garbage bags, and a line clipper.
I also do my best to leave some room for additional items. In the Summer, I like to pack a bottle of frozen water, in the early Spring and late Fall a pair of gloves and a hand warmer, and I definitely leave room for a small camera, when I have one at my disposal.
You may choose to carry a few snacks along too, I recommend items that are hermetically sealed, so you’re not attracting any critters to your bag while it’s on the ground. Most common snacks might include jerky, dried fruit, granola bars, etc. Snacks not to bring along are anything that might easily crumble, or melt from the heat of the sun.
Sounds like a lot, however, I don’t want to walk a mile to get to my fishing hole, and then find out I didn’t bring the type of baits that I needed for a successful trip.
How many rods? Generally I bring three rods along, this will cover most situations that I come across. A baitcasting rod/reel combo for casting large lures or baits into heavy cover where brute force may be needed to land fish. A medium to medium heavy spinning rod/reel combo for fishing tubes or worms for skipping under structure or casting against heavy winds. This rod is good for situations where big baits are required, yet lighter line is the ticket. Lastly a super ultra lite spinning rod/reel combo for a finicky, tight-lipped bass when the road to success means downsizing baits and line size to work with finesse.
A simple trick to employ when walking down deer paths to a less frequently fished location is to carry your rods with the reels forward and the rod tips trailing behind you, you’ll snag far less vegetation with your rod tips if you transport them in this manner.
I’ve seen anglers using a variety of methods for transporting gear. Some anglers prefer to carry their gear in a five-gallon bucket or haul it in a backpack. I’ve seen some shore anglers use two wheel shopping carts and transport all types of “creature comforts”; umbrellas, chairs, radios, grilling equipment, etc. Many anglers will just stuff their pockets with whatever they can and go as light as possible. Then there are those that prefer to wear fishing vests; some throw their gear in a cooler. However you decide to transport your gear, do whatever is comfortable for you. The bottom line for me is that I want to be as prepared as possible for any situation that may arise. When I’m working the shoreline, comfort isn’t nearly as important to me as practicality, versatility, and function.
Something to remember, respect nature! If you pack it in, remember to pack it out. Don’t leave your trash on the ground for others to see; don’t leave line stripped off of reels laying on the ground where birds and other animals can become entangled and ultimately die. If you smoke learn to field strip your cigarettes, the small amount of paper and tobacco is biodegradable, but the filters are unsightly and can take up to twenty years to break down – if you must leave anything make sure it’s biodegradable, but pack the rest out! Keep your water and woods clean!
Mark Toth (Fishaholic)