So you've got your rod, your reel, and tackle box, filled with every lure you can imagine; what else could you possibly need for a day on the water? Believe it or not, there are several additional items, not all of them found in the fishing aisle at the store, that every fisherman should make room for in their tackle box.
A strong, effective bug repellent can be the difference between fun and misery, especially if you're fishing from shore or a dock. Any outdoorsman will agree that there are times of the year when pests such as mosquitoes and ticks are absolutely relentless. Sawyer's Premium and Maxi-Deet repellents, as well as Ultrathon's aerosol and gel repellents, have proven to be favorites among consumers for their effectiveness against a variety of insects. Good repellents not only deter the insects from swarming you, but also help prevent against the risk of Lyme disease and other ailments commonly transmitted by insects. Strong bug sprays will minimize the annoyance as well as the risk of disease, and will undoubtedly earn them a permanent spot among your staple fishing gear.
Like it or not, both the fish we catch and the water from which we catch them contain any number of chemicals and bacteria. If an open cut comes into contact with these things, I can become infected or worse. This is why I've always felt that carrying hand sanitizer in my tackle box is very important. After handling fish or coming into contact with a questionable body of water, I highly suggest taking a brief moment to rinse your hands, sanitize them, then rinse and dry them again with a clean towel. Believe me when I say a few seconds to help deter bacteria, out of an entire day on the lake, is worth it if it prevents an infection.
While I'm on the subject, having a few basic first aid items wouldn't hurt either. You don't have to make sure someone you're fishing with is a licensed paramedic, but having some band-aids, poison ivy cream, and even antiseptic wipes is a good idea, just in case. As in any outdoors scenario, something as seemingly trivial as a cut or contact with a questionable substance can be exponentially worse without treatment or precautionary measures on hand.
Needle-nose pliers, which are usually found among fishing tools at any outdoors retailer, have long proven themselves to be a versatile and helpful tool on the water. Used for any number of things, from removing hooks from the mouths of fish to fine-tuning lures, the practicality of this handy device is the main reason is has been a mainstay for anglers for years.
Another useful tool to have, should the situation arise, is a hook extractor. Accidents happen, and occasionally, hooks find themselves in your hand or arm. Fishing hooks are designed not to rip free once they're stuck, and a hook extractor, which can be found anywhere you buy fishing tackle, is designed to quickly and cleanly remove a lodged hook from a human body. Without one, hook removal is a very painful and potentially dangerous occurrence, which makes it something to have nearby as an answer to such a problem.
The aforementioned items are commonly overlooked ones, but their usefulness and effectiveness shouldn't be underestimated. Items such as first aid provisions and hook extractors can be the difference between a mild accident and a potentially dangerous situation, while versatile tools like needle nose pliers will make a day of fishing smoother. There are, however, a few more obvious items that I feel shouldn't be left behind.
A reliable cell phone is not only a method of contacting help if you're lost or a life-threatening accident occurs, but most current phones are GPS-enabled, which can help you keep track of your path, as well as track hot spots on the lake. A camera will also come in handy as a way to preserve the memories and humorous moments with your friends and family, not to mention great proof to back up your latest fish tale. Also, don't forget to bring plenty of snacks and drinks, especially if the heat and sun are intense. A few energy drinks and healthy snacks (they call it trail mix for a reason) can do wonders for a worn out fisherman. Jerky is a popular snack choice for anglers, due to its high protein value, not to mention its great flavor. Of course, if you have the room, a cooler filled with your own favorite foods will work just fine.
They may not seem like much, but each of these items possesses its own unique practicality and importance on the water. However, each fisherman is different in their own way and many have their own tools and equipment that works for them. All I've done is list a few items that I've found to be lifesavers for me and for other anglers in the past that will no doubt allow for your day on the water to be safe and trouble-free. After all, catching fish can be hard enough without the added stress of mosquitoes or stray hooks to worry about.