A good buddy of mine recently stopped by to borrow a few pieces of gear for a walleye trip he's taking later this month. Although some folks dislike packing, when it comes to a fishing trip I enjoy the preparation because it whets the angling appetite, so to speak. But, the question always looms, what should and shouldn't I pack? The following isn't an exhaustive list, but a few suggestions of what to bring to help you get started.
- Fishing tackle — Get lure recommendations from your destination contact or an area tackle shop. Be selective about what you bring. Choose versatile lures that can be fished many ways and will catch inactive to active mood fish. For walleye, jigs, crankbaits, minnowbaits, soft-plastic minnows and worms, spoons, bottom bouncers and spinner rigs top my list of essentials.
- Terminal tackle — Don't forget important pieces of hardware like hooks, snaps, sinkers, leader material, etc.
- Rods and reels — Match rods to the species you're after, for example, a trolling rod with a line counter reel and a medium-power 6 1/2 to 7-foot spinning rod are non-negotiable for any walleye trip I take. A crankbait rod and reel combo, a medium-light power spinning, and an extra medium-power spinning round out the list. Pack rods in a protective tube.
- Licenses and logistics — Get a license and any additional required permits, ensure all boat insurance and registration is up to date, and organize your travel documentation.
- Rain gear — If you're not prepared, inclement weather can ruin a fishing trip. Quality rain gear, waterproof boots, and moisture wicking layers are must-haves. Bring a hat, gloves, long underwear, and warm socks if cool conditions are a possibility.
- Extra boat gear — Bring a portable sonar/GPS and a travel boat seat for a more efficient and comfortable ride when renting a boat.
- Skin protection — Sunscreen, sunglasses, sun-protective clothing, a bug suit, and insect repellent are prudent to bring.
- Life jacket — Pack it and wear it.
- Food and water — Devise a meal plan and make sure you're clear on who's bringing what items. Remember spices, butter, oil and other cooking essentials. Bring lots of healthy snacks and water (or water treatment systems).
- First-aid kit and medication — Store these essentials in a waterproof case.
- Tools — A net, knife, multi-tool, scissors, catch-and-release equipment, and a general toolkit for boat and trailer repairs are good to bring.
- Headlamp and flashlight — These items are great for dawn and dusk fishing as well as finding your way around the camp or lodge at night.
- Sleeping comforts, towels and toiletries — Don't overlook these items when packing.
- Camera — Bring one to capture your memories and pack spare batteries for all electronics
One last tip, creating a fishing-trip "checklist" on your computer reduces preparation and planning time.