With that being said, these areas can get very little traffic. Being prepared for a variety of unfortunate events can make a bad day better. Most of us will not face a life or death situation when fishing but they do happen. The items I have listed below can easily be stored in a medium size dry bag and should be with you on every trip.
- Cell Phone- I cannot think of too many people who are not carrying a cell phone on a daily basis. Checking in periodically with your wife, husband or anyone else to let them know you are safe is a must. A handheld marine radio should also be onboard if you are in an area they can be utilized.
- Camera- Whether you are participating in a CPR tournament or just out for a relaxing day on the water, a camera is a great thing to have. Using a camera to take pictures minimizes the amount of times your cell phone needs to come out of your dry bag. One “oops” and you can potentially lose contact with the world. A waterproof case is no good when your phone is tumbling down a river or headed to the bottom of your favorite lake.
- First Aid Kit- Hooks and uncooperative fish leave plenty of opportunity for accidents to happen. Having a first aid kit on board is a no brainer.
- Emergency Poncho- Did the meteorologist get it wrong again? With a sunny forecast you forget all about your rain gear. In a pinch, a poncho can also be used for shelter. Taking up less space than a deck of cards and priced less than $2.00 an emergency poncho is a must have.
- Fire Starting Kit/Waterproof Matches- Many people relate a fire starting kit to winter time fishing. Everyone knows how unpredictable Mother Nature can be. Fishing in the early spring and late fall exposes us to a variety of temperature swings. Having the ability to get warm after a quick dip can make a bad day better.
- Multitool- Our kayaks are no longer just a piece of plastic. They are fishing machines rigged with multiple rod holders, anchor trolleys and many other innovative ideas. Traveling from spot to spot, something is bound to come loose or needs to be tweaked a bit. Did you forget your pliers in the truck again? Weighing around 9 oz. and only 4” in length when closed, this tool can be equipped with everything from pliers and screwdrivers to saws and can openers. It’s a must have when on the water.
- Flashlight- Get off the water a little later than expected? Phone battery low and your flashlight app won’t work? A flashlight or headlamp fixes that problem. A spare set of batteries can ensure light for hours.
- Line Cutter- The Snip Line Cutter by Boomerang Tools is a great tool that will cut all three line types with no problem. I always carry an extra set.
- Dry Rag- Fish slime is a beautiful thing but sometimes it does end up in the wrong spot. Spray on your electronics can make them difficult to read. Having a dry rag can fix many of your daily annoyances.
- Sunscreen- Most bodies of waters offer little shade to protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Don’t let a sunburn be your reminder to bring sunscreen on your next trip.
- Bug Spray- How many times have you gotten to your favorite backwoods spot only to find it riddled with bugs and mosquitoes? Having bug spray will make your day a little more enjoyable.
- Lip Balm- Low humidity in the winter months and sun exposure in the summer months are just 2 things that cause chapped lips. Throw a tube of lip balm in your dry bag to avoid chapped lips.
- Resealable Bags- A dry bag will protect your belongings from the elements but having your phone, wallet and camera in a resealable bag gives them added protection. A large bag is also a great way to collect all the trash you create throughout the day.
- Hand Sanitizer- A good alternative when clean water and soap are not readily available before enjoying your lunch.
I think it was my first float down the Susquehanna River when I realized anything could have gone wrong. We were catching fish and floating down the river without a care in the world. Needless to say as very inexperienced kayak anglers, we were far from prepared for any situation we could have been faced with. The day was a success and we made it home safely like many other trips before. It was the very minor nonlife threatening situations we were not ready for. After stopping to eat lunch we quickly realize we have no good way to get our hands clean. The back of Chuck’s neck was a good indicator that we both forgot to apply sunscreen before launching. After rifling through our crates looking for the sunscreen we knew we did not have, a five-hour paddle back upstream to grab sunscreen out of the truck was not an option. Just a few weeks ago I found myself almost face down on the ground after the handle on my kayak gave way. I assume the screw worked its way loose after being bounced around trip after trip. Having a mulititool easily remedied that situation.
I wish I could sit here and write about some crazy life threatening experience I was able to survive because of what I had in my dry bag. The reality is I can’t. I have used my fire starting kit one time to ensure I could build a fire if need be. Have I needed it? No. But having the tools necessary to get warm in the event of an emergency is reassuring. Learning from my seemingly simple mistakes and listening to the misfortunes of others, I was able to take a hard look at the everyday dangers that come with being on the water. Without the ability to race across the lake or shoot down the river, as kayak anglers we need to be prepared for a variety of situations every time we are on the water.