Contributed by Jon Hummel
When you prepare to go on a fishing trip, how well-prepared are you? We all make sure we have our rods and tackle, our paddle and depth finder, our license and PFD. But are you really prepared? You’re heading out for a 4, 6, 8 hour trip away from land, do you really have everything you may need? This is a serious question anglers should, but many don’t, ask when prepping for day on the water. In addition to all my kayaking and fishing gear, there are three things I carry with my when I head out: my “got wet” bag, a first aid kit, and my “multi-purpose” kit.
My “got wet” bag is, of course, a dry bag, and it has everything in it I’ll need if I “got wet.” While you may not plan to get wet on a float, if you’ve kayak fished long enough you know that turtle happens. My dry bag is pretty basic and consists of two things: a towel and temperature-dependent clothes. The towel is self-explanatory – you’ve gotten wet, now you need to get dry. The important thing in the “got wet” bag is the clothes. The clothes you throw in the bag in March may be too hot in August. The shorts and shirt you stuffed in the bag in June might not work in October. Be smart and review the clothing in your dry bag as the seasons change.
My first aid kit is nothing fancy. There are plenty of pre-made first aid kits you can purchase but I put this kit together from basic stuff I had around the house. It’s designed to cover a wide range of potential “simple” injuries and fit in a one-quart zip-lock style bag.
- Adhesive bandages – Think “variety” here. Two or three each of couple different sizes should suffice. You’ll want to be able to cover different size injuries and be able to change the bandage if needed. Be sure you get the waterproof type.
- Antiseptic wipes / antibiotic ointment – If you get an open wound while kayak fishing, it’s important you disinfect it. I carry some simple single-use antiseptic wipes but a triple antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin is a great option as well. Before applying the bandage, clean the wound with the antiseptic wipe or apply a small amount of the triple antibiotic ointment. This also helps with healing.
- Non-stick gauze pads – These are great for abrasions. Be sure to clean the wound with a wipe or covering with ointment before applying a non-stick gauze pad.
- Water-proof adhesive tape – Use this roll of tape to secure a non-stick gauze pad.
- Instant cold compress – This is a discretionary item. It’s great for sprained ankles and such but it’s not a necessity.
- Snake Bite Kit – Here in the South, encountering poisonous snakes is a real possibility from spring to fall when fishing rivers or from the bank. This is a great little item to have and hopefully never use. Snake bite kits are NOT a substitute for proper medical care and the administration of an anti-venom – but they’re designed to buy you more time until you can reach the appropriate medical care. The most important thing you can know about a snake bit kit is how to use it BEFORE you need it. It comes with instructions, take the time to familiarize yourself with them.
My first two items cover me and my safety so now I turn my attention to my kayak with what I call my “multi-purpose kit.” What I’m looking for here are multi-functional items I feel I can use for a wide variety of kayak-related purposes. I want to cover as many possible needs as I can while adding as little weight to my boat as possible. I have five “go-to” items that fit easily in a one-gallon zip-lock style bag.
- Zip Ties – These are a great all-purpose item to have with you. They’re lightweight and can be use in a variety of situations.
- Paracord – I carry a length of 550 paracord on all my floats. If you’re not familiar with 550 paracord, it’s an inexpensive lightweight rope that consists of a braided sheath over seven interwoven strands that gives it a very high breaking strength. Paracord can be used for a wide variety of situations, like quick-fixing broken bungees on a kayak. There’s plenty of information available online about ways to use paracord.
- Carabiners – I like to keep a couple of these around. They don’t weigh much and can be used with the paracord in more than a few situations.
- Knife – I carry a small, lightweight, sharp knife like a a fillet knife in my multi-purpose kit. If I need to use the paracord, I’ll use this knife to cut it.
- Lighter – Another great lightweight item to carry. It can be used to sear the ends of the paracord should you need it. In the event you become stranded in a remote area, you also have a way to cook some fish for food and light a fire for warmth.
While it’s my intention not to have to use any of these things, it’s important that I have easy access to everything if I do. I keep my first aid kit and my “multi-purpose” kit in my dry bag with my “got wet” gear. The dry bag is kept in my front storage hatch along with one other item that really doesn’t fit in any of my three categories – a roll of toilet paper. It may sound silly but if you ever need it you’ll thank me. Mother Nature calling an hour into an all-day float can make for a very long, uncomfortable day if you’re not prepared to answer. What do you carry?