Every year it seems like we buy a bunch of things for our kayaks or boats that we end up leaving at home after the first use. Then there are the items that become indispensable almost immediately. If you are like me, being a floating tackle shop is the last thing you want. I carry only what I know I will need and I firmly believe “less is more” when it comes to loading up a kayak for fishing. As a rule, I try to leave all novelty items home since space and clutter are always issues. Assuming you have the bare essentials covered such as rods/reels, tackle storage, dry suit/wet-suit, life vest, radio, knife, and a set of in-line cutters/pliers, everything else needs to have a definitive purpose. Here’s a few items to consider as you get your inventory set for the coming season.
PLANO BUMP BOARD (FISH MEASURING BOARD)
This collapsing board is the most useful item I have ever come across when it comes to measuring a fish on the kayak. Years ago I would try to rest the fish up against my paddle or along a measuring tape. Hobie Mirage owners know that it is no easy task to measure anything because the drive mechanism leaves deck space. With the bump board you no longer have to struggle to try and lay tape across a fluke for an accurate measurement. Even when I plan to release all that I catch, I bring along my bump board so I’ll know how big that monster fish I released actually was.
Two really nice aspects of this measuring board are that it both collapses and floats. Collapsed it can measure a fish up to 19 inches while fully extended it stretches out to 36 inches. I attach the NYS regulations tape over my bump board, making it even more useful. At $12.99 retail, it’s a great bargain. Hook1Blitz also makes a measuring board worth considering. This one is 30 inches, but it does not float so I would recommend leashing it.
I used to take my camera on the water with me on every trip and always was concerned about dropping it overboard. I’ve yet to lose one, but being prepared may have helped. One of my kayak buddies showed me his float and it looked like a life preserver for your camera. It is the best insurance you can get on your waterproof camera. I recommend it for boaters and surf casters as well. It certainly provides the best piece of mind you can imagine. There are countless different ones available in the last few years and you can find a decent one for about $10.
WATERPROOF iPHONE/SMARTPHONE CASE
With apps like Navionics and ESeaChart readily available for a low price, just about everyone now has access to a chart plotter. When taking trips out to the reefs and when fishing lakes I find myself constantly on my phone looking for the next wreck or how much further to my next spot. I use a Kwik Tek Dry Pak Case which runs around $11. It keeps the phone around my neck so if I’m trolling and suddenly hook-up I can drop my phone and concentrate on something else instantly. It’s also relatively easy to continue to use a touch screen with wet hands with this case as well. A dry case also lets you use your phone in the event of an emergency. There are many different cases available form which to choose. If you found yourself purchasing a smart phone in the last few years and decided to start using a chart plotter app, a good waterproof case is now a necessity.