Two is good (but sometimes three is better)

When you’re out fishing, you should carry at least two of almost everything. It doesn’t really matter if you’re fishing tournaments or just fun fishing. A recent problem I had makes the point.

Not too many days ago, on the last day of the Plano Championship Chase on Lake St. Clair, I was in a pretty good position to win. I was really excited. The day before I’d won my second Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. I had a big sack when I started back with my cameraman. The problem is that I never made it to the weigh-in.

I got my boat caught in a freak wave between three really big boats. One of them was so big you couldn’t carry it on a trailer. It was one you’d haul with a semi truck with an escort to keep other cars from running into you.

The wave twisted my boat. When it hit us it broke two of the motor’s mounting bolts. They’re the ones that go through the transom. They keep your motor from falling off. I couldn’t do anything. There’s no way to run with your motor half off. My tournament was over. I don’t carry spare equipment to repair something like that.

But the incident makes the point that no matter how good your equipment and no matter how carefully you maintain it, things happen that are out of your control. I have a Phoenix hull and a Mercury motor. They’re really good. I take care of them and check them over every day. Still, I had a problem.

That’s why I carry at least two of almost everything. Things happen.

Here’s a list of what I carry, and why I carry it. You should probably customize it to meet your specific needs.

  • Trolling motor props — I carry two spares besides the one I’m using. Your prop gets a lot of wear and tear. If it breaks you need a spare. Without an extra, you’re done.
  • Trolling motor pins — These usually come with the spare props. Check and make sure.
  • Outboard prop — I only carry a spare when I’m fishing shallow water where I might hit a rockpile or something. I always have one in my truck, though.
  • Pliers and scissors — You need a spare for each. If you lose one or drop one overboard, it’s hard to do anything with your tackle. Besides, you could get a hook in your hand or finger and you need pliers to get it out.
  • Rods, reels and line — I always have spares. I’m very specific about matching everything. If I don’t have a spare and something happens to the one I’m using, it messes up my fishing. The reason I carry extra line is so it’s easy to change it on the water. You’re more likely to do it that way.
  • Navigation lights — I carry extra bulbs and poles. It’s dangerous to run in the dark without lights, and some tournaments won’t let you launch if they aren’t working.
  • Tools and fuses — Always carry extra tools and fuses. Usually you can repair things on the water if you have tools and parts.
  • Sunscreen and lip balm — I always have at least two containers of each. You don’t want to run out and get sunburned or chapped lips.
  • Hats or caps — Some guys carry a spare. I carry two. They can blow off your head real easy and then you have to fight the sun all day. There’s no reason for that.
  • Glasses — I have three pairs of sunglasses in the boat at all times. If you have prescription glasses, carry one or two extra pairs of them. You don’t want to run into anything because you can’t see.
  • Boat, truck and compartment keys — I put my extras in one compartment of the boat. That way if I lose the ones I’m using, I only have to break into one compartment to get everything.
  • Clothing — If it’s cold, I always have a spare set of clothes in the boat. They’re wrapped in plastic. I’ve never done it but I'm told that if you fall overboard in the cold — maybe around 25 or 30 degrees — you’ll never make a 20-mile run back to the ramp in wet clothes.

There’s a bunch of other stuff that might apply to each person individually. One thing I’m thinking about is prescription medicine. If you take it, and if it’s important, you probably should have at least one extra dose with you. You never know what can happen.

Don’t let the lack of a spare anything ruin your tournament or your fishing trip. Pack extras. Your boat will be full, like mine, but it’s better that not having what you need.

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