Have you ever gone on an overnight fishing trip and thought you brought everything you needed only to get there and find that you could only carry half of what you packed, and you realize at some point that you have only half of what you need? All summer long I’ve been practicing with my pack to see what I could carry, and what I would need to have a comfortable experience overnight in the woods. What I have found is that I pack a lot less when I’m going alone. Mentally, there’s this habit of thinking you need more when you have someone else with you. If you’re only gone for one night, you don’t need much. For instance your cast iron frying pan is great for cooking over a fire, but it’s very heavy, bulky, and it’s much easier to just pack a large piece of tin foil that you carefully folded up into a square the size of your wallet that will fit in your back pocket. So with that in mind, here are the things that I think will help you have a great night in the woods without breaking your back on the way in.
Where you choose to set up camp is equally as important as what you bring. Be sure that you keep a close eye on the weather. If you’re staying near a stream, try to be sure that you aren’t in a flood area. I try to look for places that will offer shade from the Sunrise, and that are near pine trees. Pine sap is a natural accelerant for fire building. Before leaving your house if you take a ziploc bag and put the lint from your dryer in it, you can then mix that with the tree sap you find in a pine tree to make one hell of a firestarter.
I have a mummy bag that I picked up to use for my sleeping bag that is great for anytime the temperature is above 50 (below that is really subjective to personal preference. The other thing I bring, which really is the only “luxury” item that I pack is a yoga mat. If you go to buy a bedroll you’ll probably be looking at spending $50 or more. But a yoga mat will do the exact same thing, and can be picked up for about $15. You’ll sleep a lot better and your back will be ready for those giant hooksets in the morning.
Everything begins and ends with your backpack when you’re staying overnight on a fishing trip. I’ve always been curious about how much I could fit in my Mt Pickett 20 by Paxis ever since I got it. I’ve used it many times for flights, and I’ve always thought that it would be really cool to take it overnight. It has a reinforced padded back, which makes it great for hiking. It has lots of standard hiking features: it’s Camelbak ready, has fully adjustable straps, and lots of exterior areas that are designed for fast access for little things you might need to get quickly (pocket knife, wallet, etc.).
I used this back on this fishing trip differently than I ever had before. I very carefully (and somewhat painfully) figured out a way to fold my two person tent small enough to place it in the bottom compartment. I only bring this tent when I’m camping with my son. If I’m going alone I take my Peregrine Radama that I got from Eastern Mountain Sports and not place it in the bottom compartment, essentially eliminating my favorite part of this pack in need of functionality. When I arrive at my location for the night I’ll immediately unpack the tent so I can use the swing area for my fishing gear while I’m at the stream. That still leaves the entire upper area empty for me to add my Camelbak (this holds about 2 liters of water), my clothes, and the rest of my gear that needs to be inside. Click here to get your own Paxis today! www.paxispax.com
Probably the best $100 I ever spent in camping gear is my Katadyn water filter because I don’t have to bring water with me, and that’s the heaviest thing that I’ve ever had to carry in for an overnight. This bad boy will filter a gallon a minute and will filter out all the nasty stuff like protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns in size, including giardia, salmonella, cryptosporidia and saves me from having to boil it. I can drink any stream, pond, or lake water as fast as I can filter it. It’s easy to clean, extremely lightweight, and comes with a great little bag to store it in. This alone makes camping a lot more enjoyable. When you’re on a fishing trip you need to be sure you stay hydrated as much as possible. This will make having a glass of water as easy as pouring it from the tap.
You must bring some sort of knife or hatchet on any camping/fishing trip and this Bobcat from Knives of Alaska is incredible. First of all, you will not believe how sharp this is right out of the box. Not only will this hatchet slice through wood like nobody’s business, but it’s so sharp that you can use it to prepare game. I’ve dressed countless fish and game with it, and the hook is the sharpest I have ever seen before. The blade is so sharp that I cut myself on it not expecting it to have the edge that it did right out of the box. It’s made in the US with D2 steel (one piece from top to bottom), and comes with a beautiful leather carrying case with belt loop. This is also the perfect tool for sharpening sticks to use when it’s time to cook your dinner on the riverbank.
The Stormr Nano (seen here at Tackle Direct) is the best lightweight rain suit there is. It was designed to be a great option for any backpacking trip and it’s the perfect suit for that and any summer fishing trip in my opinion. Not only will it keep you dry, but it will also protect you from any heavy wind you come across. In the summer, you’ll want to be sure to bring the grey jacket if you’re wearing it near streams to keep the trout from spotting you too easily, but you can blend in better with the red jacket during the fall, especially near tree-lined banks. The pants are very lightweight and can be taken on and off very easily.
The other thing I always bring with me on overnight fishing trips is my 22 mag rifle. The one shown was a gift from my dad, but if I were going on a long fishing trip I’d bring one that had a composite frame to shed some weight. If you plan to bring a rifle with you, be sure to check all your local laws first. This small rifle fit perfectly in the side pocket of my Paxis and never moved until I took it out.
What fishing gear I bring on each fishing trip is totally dependent upon where I’m going, but when I’m staying on The Genegantslet or The Delaware I like to bring something small and compact. I’ll either bring a little ultralight spinning combo, or my Wicked Ice rod and reel from 13. I know it sounds weird, but it’s actually a great rod in open water when I’m in small spaces. Streams, in particular, tend to offer areas where you can only make little casts or pitches. This rod would really struggle with a 10 pound brown, but it does just fine with fish under 20 inches (panfish in particular) and it’s great at throwing a Mepps or a Blue Fox. These baits have become somewhat forgotten over the years but they’re dynamite for catching numbers of fish in slow moving water near current breaks.
I have a great pair of pliers from iBobber that I take on every fishing trip that I have attached to my Paxis with a Gear Keeper retractable unit. This allows me to always have a hook removal tool at a moments notice, and to be able to put it away again as soon as I’m done with it. I also bring some extra hooks, TK 97W-1/0 is a Trokar hook that has a weedguard on it to help prevent snags.
So there you have a small list of things that you can bring on your next fishing trip that will help you maximize your comfort without requiring your own personal Sherpa to carry all your gear.