Congratulations, so you have decided you want to throw your hat in the ring and fish some tournaments as a co-angler/non-boater. Now, what do you need to pack or take with you? First thing to remember is that you will be a guest on another anglers’ boat. There is no need, or room for that matter, for you to bring 20 rods and a small tackle store. So, here is a basic list that will get you by as a co-angler/non-boater and still allow you to have fun and be able to fish tournaments.
- Fishing license – It would seem obvious but when your mind is racing and trying to get everything loaded and ready to leave, sometimes it is the most obvious things that you forget. Many co-anglers and boaters keep it in their tackle bag.
- Tackle bag – Organized and complimentary amount suitable to your strengths and a few baits just in case you are placed in a position on the lake that your general techniques won’t work. For example, if your strength is flipping and the boater you draw is a deep water fisherman/woman, then you might want to have some jigs, a Carolina Rig, and possibly some deep diving crank baits like the DD22 models by Norman Lures.
- Life jacket/life vest – Boating laws required a life jacket for every person on board of a vessel, it does not mean the one provided, if any, will fit you. Especially if you an overly small or large person, the best would be to have one that fits you. Here there are 2 basic options. The first is a standard USCG-approved Type III life jacket like this one available at Bass Pro Shops in Oklahoma City, OK to the more expensive inflatable ones like this one by Mustang Survival available at Bass Pro Shops in Oklahoma City, OK as well. The inflatable life jackets have the added benefit of being low in weight, non-bulky and that means that you have to take it off and on all day which translates to more time with your lure/bait in the water.
- Fishing rods – Five to six fishing rods should be plenty. Depending on the season you may want different rods, but here are a few good recommendations. A good medium-heavy rod that can be used for soft-plastics and jigs, a spinning rod for finesse techniques such as drop-shotting or wacky-worming, a flipping stick for when flipping and pitching, a rod for top water baits, and a rod for throwing crank baits. Check out RPM Customs Rods and when you order use the coupon code “RDOK” and save 25% off your order.
- Terminal tackle – This is like the air we breathe or the water our bodies need. Some boaters may share hot baits or lures with you if they have enough. However, weights, hooks, snaps, pegs, etc. are something that is considered by most anglers to be the absolute personal responsibility of each individual angler. The options for each of these are countless and are a matter of personal preference.
- Rain gear – It is always a good idea to have some packable rain gear. The joke by many anglers is that if there needs to be some weather, schedule a tournament and the bad weather; rain, heat, winds, etc., will come.
- Sun protection – Another obvious item to pack but often left out. There are also alternatives to sunscreen such as products with built in SPF protections or clothes that cover more of the face, neck and skin. Also a hat would come in extremely handy when on the water.
- Eye wear – With all the UV rays, glare and reflections present on the water a good quality pair of sunglasses area necessity. Again, there are many styles, lenses and manufacturers available and it is a personal choice. Rudy Project is a great manufacturer and they offer a discount on all orders at www.e-rudy.com if at check out the purchaser uses the VIP/Promotion Code “raydeleur“.
- Food/water – This one should be obvious, but is often overlooked. Your body is a machine, an engine if you will, and it needs fuel to run. Depending on the weather you will need more of certain things. In the hotter months, water, water, and more water is a necessity. Many co-anglers start drinking water well before the sun even comes up to give their bodies a jump start on hydration.
- Clothes – When packing always bring three extra of everything. That means extra shirts, pants, underwear, socks, and even shoes and outerwear such as jackets or sweatshirts. You never know when you may end up in the water and dry clothes can make the difference between life and death at the most extreme end of the spectrum to a dry ride home on the other.
So, there you have it. Of course as you gain more experience, or if you already have some, you can modify any of these things to suit your personal tastes and style. Just remember that everything you bring, may end up at your feet, and ultimately in the boaters as well. Also, treat the anglers’ boat and angler with respect. Clean up your messes, do not damage the boat, seats, carpet, etc., and keep an open mind. And above all, have fun and catch some fish.
Raymond de Leur is a member of the Rudy Project Fishing Team and was provided with a pair of Rudy Project Gozen sunglasses with the Polar 3 FX lenses as part of his involvement with the Rudy Project Fishing Team.