How many of you have this problem, you head out for a fun filled day of fishing, or maybe a tournament day but end up frustrated and disappointed with your day because you felt cluttered or maybe you broke or lost some equipment by stepping on it? Unfortunately I’ve fell victim to this all too many times, I’d like to share one particularly vivid memory and some of the actions, and tips I’ve taken to help resolve this.
A couple of years ago, my fishing buddy and I were going to head out to one of our favorite spots…Caddo Lake and try to wear out some slots and hopefully grab a few over’s too. We asked our buds on fishing sites and read multiple fishing reports about how the lake was fishing. We decided on a few key elements for the big day and had it basically down to basically 3 things. First we’d start the early morning with a top water bait, buzzer, frog, spook…something along those lines. As the sun began to come up we’d employ a spinner-bait, trap or crank as a search bait to locate fish. Once we had that we would pick apart the areas with jigs or some plastics and close the day with whatever seemed to be working the best. The night before we observed the weather forecast and mapped out our planned route from the launch to the areas we wanted to be in at certain times of the next day. This is where I started to get into trouble, I didn’t even realize it at the time. I started second guessing my choices and worried if I have a buzz bait tied on I may end up needing a spook or other bait at the same time…so I drug out another combo and outfitted a few top water solutions. Then I became concerned that the black/blue jig may be too common and another color may do better…so I drug out another combo and tied on a black/brown/amber jig. Well you may already see the pattern here but of course then I became worried that in the heat of the day I wouldn’t want to bother with sitting and sweating while tying lines so I drug out all my combos (including a spinning reel) and proceeded to tie on a few different spinner/crank/plastic configurations. By this point I had a total of 8 or 9 combos, so I just figured I’d keep them in my locker and swap out as needed.
The big day came and we headed out, high in spirits and really looking forward to a fun day of fishing. We launched and got on our way without incident thanks to our fool-proof launch/load checklist. The boat ran beautifully and the lake and weather were perfect. We pulled up to our first area as planned and I dropped the trolling motor. Then it hit…the little voice inside that ruined the day. I went to take out my first combos, I figured should be a snap since I put them in the rod locker in reverse order, but to my dismay the ride and jostling had successfully entangled my overstuffed rod box (I run a 16.5’ boat with no rod tubes in the locker) and every combo was now a part of another combo. I managed to get the mess out, but not before snapping the tip of my prized possession, my brand new gold carrot stick! I was upset and in a mood and hadn’t even dropped a line in the water yet. I then decided since I was down a rod and didn’t want to try untangling a mess again I’d run all the combos on my deck and just put up with the clutter. All day long I had to maneuver around a rod here or try to keep from stepping on a precariously positioned “follow up” bait rod there that I now had no room for. It was mentally draining, probably physically fatiguing and took any fun out of the whole trip. The worst part about it all (other than breaking my rod) was that I ended up using the exact combos I had planned on using the whole day. Probably 5 of the rods on deck were never even touched other than pulling them out, stepping on them and having to put them all away at the end of the day!
Since that day I’ve employed another type of check list, it’s not a written one, but it is more of a mental preparation tool that I use before I go hit the water. I remind myself
1. I’ve done my research
a. I got some tips from good folks
b. read up on fishing reports
c. have a working knowledge of that water from previous experiences
d. I’ve checked the weather and know what to expect
2. I knew the night before what I was going to bring…don’t second guess myself and start loading needless items into a small boat
3. Even if I load it up I’m probably going to use exactly what I set out to use in the first place and if not …here’s the kicker…IT DOESN’T TAKE THAT LONG TO TIE SOMETHING ELSE ON!
I repeat that last part over and over, since then my trips..regardless of success are more enjoyable and less aggravating because I don’t spend needless time untangling rods or climbing over junk that’s not even there for a purpose. I’ve even learned to apply this theory to my 40-50lb tackle-bag and the other numerous extraneous items packed away in the boat. If I use 15lbs of tungsten sinkers in a day…well I have more issues than being ill prepared, and if I snap off 20 crankbaits in a day…it just means it must be a spinnerbait type of day…or something else. Now if I could just get my wife to learn this technique when packing for a vacation!!!