Matt Beck never leaves home without a toilet bowl brush. Pete Ponds travels with Lava hand soap. Dianna Clark feels lost without a tube of Preparation H.
Most serious anglers carry the same basics in their boats: fishing tackle, spare parts and safety gear.
But what else do they carry? We decided to find out, by asking a variety of fishermen "What's in your boat?" Some of what we discovered likely will surprise you and some will make you laugh, but most could benefit you on your next fishing trip.
Consider, for example, the Preparation H carried by Clark, Angler of the Year on the Mercury Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats (WBT). She uses the hemorrhoid ointment as a fish attractant on her soft plastics.
"It has shark liver oil in it," says the Tennessee angler. "I don't know if that's why it works. But it does."
A toilet bowl brush, meanwhile, is essential if you fish vegetation-clogged shallows, according to Beck, a Florida tournament angler who likes to use his big engine to push back into topped out cover.
"Sometimes, it's 50 yards or more through a hydrilla field," he says. "My engine's vents can easily get clogged with hydrilla, muck or other vegetation. While idling through the cover, I keep a sharp eye on my water pressure gauge and when it starts to drop, I immediately shut down the engine before it overheats."
After trimming it out of the water, he uses the long-handle brush to clear the water intake vents.
"If you get into the habit of watching your water pressure gauge or engine temperature, this becomes almost second nature," he adds. "Not only will this save you time at the end of the day by not having to wait for your engine to cool down, it will save the life of your engine by preventing damage due to overheating."
JUST FOR LUCK
Here's what some others carry:
Horseshoe. "Normally I carry one in my rod box," says Elite Series angler Charlie Youngers. "During this past season, someone apparently decided I'd been lucky enough, and they helped themselves to the horseshoe.
"I fished several tournaments after the horseshoe disappeared, with no apparent change in my success," the Florida pro adds. "However, I'm looking for a new horseshoe, just in case."
Lava hand soap. "I put it in the back end of my boat, where the pumps are, to keep it clean," says Pete Ponds, an Elite Series pro from Mississippi. "There usually is enough water there and the movement of the boat does a good job of cleaning."
Ponds also carries a spare kill-switch lanyard and a cork from a wine bottle. "That's just in case I lose a plug. I can trim it (cork) down to fit any hole."
Chain stringer. "I carry it in a Ziploc bag with a 2-ounce weight attached to it," says Emily Shaffer, a WBT competitor from Tennessee. "You open all of the metal keepers, attach it to a rope, and drag the bottom. It has recovered numerous rods and reels that have gone over the side of the boat.
"I have had people who know I have it call me out on the lake so they can borrow it to get their rods and reels back."
Paddle hook. "When you get one of those baits that just seems to wiggle right and catch every fish in the pond, losing it is almost a life-altering event," says Kevin Short, an Elite Series pro from Arkansas, who swears by a Telescopic Paddle/Boat Hook Combo ($26.99) sold by Bass Pro Shops (www.basspro.com).
The aluminum pole extends from 2 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 6 inches, while the handle bears a polycarbonate hook with vinyl tip.
"I have used the hook on the end of the handle to pull up brushpiles, old rope, a huge deck umbrella, even a tire, to get those money-makers back.
"Without my trusty paddle, I would have lost or seriously maimed numerous baits while trying to retrieve them. Oh yeah, the blaze orange paddle also serves as a signaling aid!"
Saw. It's a must if you fish backwaters, according to Penny Berryman, a longtime women's competitor from Arkansas. She realized that after trying to back out of a slough, past a large, low-hanging limb.
"The next thing I knew, I was pinned to the front deck, stuck with a mossy, dirty, heavy limb sliming me from one end to the other," she remembers. "I decided that, as much as I enjoy venturing into places I don't think other anglers will go, maybe I should carry some kind of saw. It's come in handy several times since then."
Towels. "I've hung over the side of my Triton boat and gone in shoulder-deep more than once to get fish unhung from underwater trees, grass and tangles," says Robin Babb, a WBT angler from Texas. "I also carry the necessary 'professional angler' stuff like a hairbrush, jewelry, makeup, clean shirt and visor."
Pro Pocket Tool System. "Here is something I use religiously to keep order in the boat," says Georgia guide and tournament angler Mike Bucca. "This is the deal for keeping my pliers from getting lost. It holds both scissors and pliers, and it requires no drilling holes."
Made by TLS Concepts & Manufacturing (www.tlsconcepts.com), the holder stores tools partially open so that they don't bounce out in rough water. Yet, they are readily available for one-hand access.
What's This? "Although I'm not mechanically inclined, I do carry an entire mechanic's shop in my boat," says WBT angler Sheri Glasgow from Oklahoma. "Others joke that I have all the tools necessary to repair my boat as long as I run across someone who knows how to use them."
Few, if any, anglers are better prepared than Potomac River guide Steve Chaconas for everything from small problems to major emergencies. That's why what he carries in his boat, aside from fishing tackle, makes for a rather substantial inventory.
"As a guide, I carry extra stuff because my passengers are always forgetting something," he says.
With that in mind, he keeps additional sunblock, sunglasses, raingear and waterproof socks and gloves. Plus, he carries extra rod tips, glue, Blakemore Reel Magic, hook sharpeners and scissors for simple repairs.
Chaconas keeps flashlights and emergency water and food, such as Power Bars and nuts, as well as a first-aid kit that includes hook remover, rubber gloves, aspirin, Pepto-Bismol and TUMS.
"Odds and ends like a lighter and, of course, toilet paper, are stored in baggies," the guide says.
His boat also contains flotation devices, ropes, anchors, dock fenders, a push pole and paddles. Other essentials include spare props for both engines, as well as an emergency portable bilge pump with alligator clips for attaching to batteries.
"I carry binoculars to locate another boat if I get into trouble, a weather radio with two-way capability, extra Ziploc bags and bigger trash bags to put gear in to keep it from getting wet," adds Chaconas, who also carries an assortment of tools.
Many of those are contained within a Metric Tool Kit ($50.95) sold by Yamaha (www.yamaha-motor.com). It contains a large assortment of wrenches, a combo screwdriver, spark plug gap gauge, electrical tape, WD-40, tire pressure gauge, zip ties, wire and a rag.
The Ready Freddy (www.readyfreddy.com) is yet another all-in-one kit that can help you keep the right stuff in your boat. Retailing for $149.95, the outdoor survival pack combines traditional staples such as a first-aid kit, tools, rope, blanket and emergency rations, with tech gear, although no batteries are required. Its cell phone charger and radio rely on hand-crank power, while the flashlight is shake activated.
More than 100 items come packaged in separate pouches and compactly organized in a small, red backpack that can be stored in a boat locker.
So … what's in your boat?