Whenever you’re fishing new waters, it’s smart—and potentially life-saving—to keep maps and charts on hand that show you the area. Laminated maps from Waterproof are particularly great, due to their ability to float and endure rolling and folding.

A portable VHF radio partners well with your charts. The radio can provide you with information regarding the weather and fishing conditions, and it allows you to listen in to other anglers and glean where the action is. Plus, the radio can help you reach out in the case of an emergency, or come to the aid of another.

Bait is big in saltwater fishing, so whether you’re using shrimp or mullet, a portable bait container will be key. You can use a portable battery-operated baitwell, which you can find in a variety of sizes. With bait, though, you’ll need to be able to dice it for chum and cut bait, which means a cutting board and knife. The sea is a bit rockier than most of the lakes we’re used so, so a cutting board fitted with suction cups to keep it in place is a smart choice. I’d even bring two boards along; one for cutting bait and one for cleaning your catch.

Many saltwater fish that are likely to hit your bait will have teeth, which means you’ll want to have a good pair of needle-nose pliers and a lip grip on hand. Pliers with foam handles float and will allow you to get deep into the fish’s throat to retrieve your hook, and the lip grip helps you control and land fish without a net. The Boga grips are great because they’re stainless steel and feature a built-in scale to weigh the fish without having to control it by hand.

You’ll want to keep mooring lines, as well as an extra anchor with line on hand, too. Half-inch Dacron is great for both functions. It can be tied to a length of chain and attached to a grapple anchor, but also tied in looped lengths to be used for attaching to docks, bait buckets, or even to each other.

Finally, you should also have an extra deep cell battery on hand to serve as a backup to your starter battery. The extra battery will also help power equipment you may not be used to sustaining, like sonar, GPS, or wells that can quickly drain power.

I know many of us Northern anglers yearn for a taste of the sun and saltwater fishing of the South when the cold months set in, but rigging up the boat and heading South without preparation can lead to trouble. Keep the gear outlined today in mind if you find yourself planning a trip to the South this Winter. 

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