Updated: Apr 14, 2020
I've been meaning to write about this for a very long time and after talking to another angler at the bump tank in my last tournament I felt I needed to get this out sooner than later. This one is for all boaters, not just tournament anglers.
Whether we're fishing a tournament or just going fun fishing there's a significant amount of prep, distance traveled, and of course time involved to go out and have a fun trip. Being prepared for the worst-case scenario could turn a bad day into a minor setback. So, I wanted to focus on things that are often over looked or just not talked about. Of course, everyone needs to carry all of the items that are required by law and things like a flashlight, batteries etc. are common sense. So, here's what I carry with me and why.
I bought a Wolfyok Dry Bag set on Amazon for $30, I didn’t know exactly what size I needed so the set seemed like a safe purchase. In the dry bag I have a complete set of clothes inside; shoes, socks, pants, underwear, shirt, sweater, beanie, and gloves. If for any reason I need to go into the water in a split second, accidentally fall over, or, and I pray this never happens, get thrown out of the boat, I can quickly change and get warm. I don’t need to rush back to the boat ramp and cut my day short. I store the bag where my oil tank is so it’s completely out of the way and takes up no needed storage space. In most boats, the battery compartment would be an ideal place to store it. For $30 or less I think it’s an absolute no brainer!
I have been known to throw a blade a time or two so I’ve always carried a spare prop. I remember 2 seasons ago in the Wild West Bass Trail Delta Pro-Am I was in the 1st flight on day 2 and hauling from Big Break to Sycamore and as soon as I was about to pass B&W Marina I threw a blade. Thankfully, I was so close to a marina that the entire process only took 20 minutes, but my spare prop was a go fast prop and was not the right prop with the tournament load I had. I had big time trouble getting on pad lol. I bought a Russell Marine Prop Storage Bag for $30 and it makes it super easy to store and move around. My advice would be to buy the least expensive prop that will allow you to finish your day and get you back to the ramp. Props are very expensive so even a used prop is a perfect spare prop.
First Aid Kit
You would think this would be one of those things that were automatically in every boat, but you’d be surprised. A buddy of mine was fishing as an AM in tournament on the Delta and his Pro’s Power Poles were stuck in the mud and he as asked to try and pull it free. I can envision all of you cringing right now. Bad idea, right? Yup, it pulled free and snapped on his hand trapping 2 of his fingers! After his Pro opened the Poles back up, his fingers were mangled, and bleeding. You guessed it; his Pro didn’t have a First Aid kit so he had to tape his fingers. In my last tournament, it was my day 1 Am’s first ever tournament and he had a list of questions he asked (which I thought was great) and one of them was “do you have a First Aid kit in the boat”. I actually had 3 First Aid kits in the boat and not because I’m overly cautious. I had a cheap kit for the longest time and a couple of years ago my wife bought me a bigger kit to make sure I have everything when we take the kids out. Last year the Angler Aid Essentials Box came out and I picked one up to support them. It has everything you can think of in there and it’s in a sealed 3700 box so it’s super easy to store.
Really Good Insurance
It's a fact that we’re at a greater risk of accidents due to us towing our boats long distances, really early in the morning (and if you’re like me, late in the evening), and on limited sleep (who can sleep the night before you're going fishing?). If you fish tournaments, this one is even more important! Make sure you have more than enough coverage. Most major tournament organizations require a minimum of $300,000 in liability coverage. Call your agent to make certain that your insurance policy does not exclude tournament participation, get it in writing if you can. If your assets substantiate additional protection you may want to consider an umbrella policy. Also, make sure your trailer is covered and your deductible is low enough to cover things fenders (co-anglers backing your trailer down), etc.. Lastly; and I don’t want to get dark on everyone, but if you have a family please make sure you have some sort of Life Insurance.
When I switched over to Ben Green Insurance after over 20 years with Nationwide, I included a Life Insurance policy. I had to make sure my family is taken care of in the event anything happens to me.
We have so much to think about on the water; where to go to first, what baits do I need to be throwing, is this the right color, am I’m moving to fast, am I moving too slow, should I be fishing offshore, am I running and gunning too much, am I not picking areas apart, etc… A buddy of mine and someone I look up to like a mentor, Vince Hurtado, gave me some really solid advice: “do everything you can to alleviate stress so you can just focus on fishing”. I took this advice and ran with it and wanted to also pass it on to you.
Good luck and tight lines!