Preparing for risky business

Next year will be my third season on the Bassmaster Elite Series and every year is full of new experiences. One thing I have learned, and I’m only 23 years old, is that you must be prepared for everything.

I run a rig that is made for everything, which is an Xpress X21 high performance aluminum bass boat, powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO outboard. There are many reasons why I run this boat and engine, and being able to rely on my equipment is the main one.

Another reason is my style of competing. I call it guerilla bass fishing. I can go where the big fiberglass rigs cannot, and even so, there are lots of places where I go that are very remote. No cell service. Keeping my Marshals on the lookout for wasp nests, water moccasins. Fallen trees that block access to a creek channel. Those are all real challenges that I have encountered. I think its human nature to want to explore and find something untouched by others and that definitely is me.

That being said I have many different tools and items that I keep on hand at all times in the boat. Some are simple, others you might have never heard of before. Here’s my list.

Romance Body Spray: Yep, that’s right. Nothing is worse than breathing in a mouthful of gnats. Or clouds of bugs so thick they challenge your concentration. Vanilla spray is a natural gnat and mosquito repellant that keeps away bugs while not repelling the bass. That is why I avoid using Deet products. Victoria’s Secret makes the best vanilla spray and that’s where I get mine. If you aren’t the kind of dude that likes walking into Victoria’s Secret and smelling women’s body spray, then take my word for it and order online.

Turkey mask: Yep, that’s right too. When you go guerilla like I do then go to battle with a head cover. You get more bug protection when the biters are really intense. Turkey masks work great because they are light, breathable and cover your entire head. But don’t wear the mask into Victoria’s Secret to buy the Romance Body Spray just to avoid being recognized by your bros at the mall.

Portable saw: Another head scratcher? Not really. A portable tree-trimming saw comes in handy when you need it the most. I use mine to clear the way when fallen trees block access to my remote fishing areas. I use a Porter Cable tree-trimming saw powered by a lithium battery. This saw is lightweight and takes up very little space. It also has the power to cut bigger trees and uses the same batteries as my drill. Before you consider using it check state laws about cutting timber or wood on public property and lakeshores.

Rope: This may seem like a no brainer. Making sure you have a long, strong tow rope that is suitable for being pulled out of a bad spot is a must. A 20-foot nylon rope won’t do the trick. You must have at least 100 feet or more. When you get stuck your buddy or rescuer won’t join you when trying to pull you out. You can never have too much rope.

VHF Radio: This might seem a little old school but a VHF marine radio should be in every boat. Buy a good waterproof model, find out which channels are monitored by public safety departments and be ready for any emergency when you need help. Without cell service a VHF radio can be your only hope.

First aid kit: This is another no-brainer for the boat but there is more you need to add to the kit. The contents usually differ in each kit but the basic bandages and medications can save a life. To mine I add a lighter for fire starting and a snake bit kit. Tweezers, a sharp knife and emergency blankets are my other add-ons.

All of the above may seem like overkill for just a fishing trip. But once you launch the boat you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Anything can happen. For someone like me who spends so much time on the water during practice and scouting trips those items are a must. They give me the reassurance that I will be prepared should something happen. That goes for my Marshal and me. And of course, we’ll also smell like vanilla, like it or not.