A sixer of must-haves, not including your tackle, to keep in your surf ride.
No, gloves are not for the wimpy surf fisherman who moonlights (or would it actually be ‘daylights’ in this case) as a hand model! I wear gloves all the time when fishing. They protect my hands from barnacles when climbing up onto a rock; they protect my finger tip when casting braid; and they prevent that tell-tale sign of the fisherman who caught some fish last night, “bass thumb.” When you fish more than 100 nights per year, skipping the gloves only serves to ruin your hands and has actually cost me time on the water. And why am I opposed to bass thumb? It’s tough to lie about how well you’ve been doing when your thumb is shredded!
Extra Batteries, Extra Flashlights
When I am out in the surf I carry at least two flashlights (one on my head and one around my neck). My headlamp, which features a red lens to prevent ruining my night vision, is the primary light. The second light on my neck is a high-power white light used for emergencies or as a spotting light. Back in my truck I have at least one (usually three) back-up headlights and at least one more back-up bright light. While you might think that this array of back-up lights is overkill, it has saved me as well as my fishing partners at times when a replacement light was needed. Along the same lines I keep a good stock of batteries in my truck for each light (Of course they all take different batteries!).
Whether you prefer WD-40 or a similar product, keeping a can of some sort of spray lubricant handy in your surf vehicle can get you out of a sticky situation. It can be used to lube a squeaky reel, or free a stuck belly swivel on a plug. I’ve even sprayed a squeaky door hinge on my truck before fishing a spot with questionable access so as to lessen the chance that my presence would draw unwanted attention. Some say that WD-40 can even be used as an attractant on your lures—you can be the judge of that tip.
A First-aid Kit
A simple item but something probably overlooked by the average surfcaster, keeping even a simple first-aid kit in your fishing vehicle is a good idea. I have a small kit in my truck that includes basics like different sized band aids, gauze, tape, ibuprofen and an ice pack. This has saved me on several occasions where had I not had a few of the items on hand, I’d likely have needed to cut an outing short. True emergencies should be treated by a real doctor, but the average bumps, bruises and minor cuts associated with a season of fishing the surf can be handled with ease on the fly.
Much like the first-aid kit, a good set of bolt cutters, ones that can cut any and all hooks you’re likely to use, can save a night’s fishing. It is not a question of whether or not a fisherman is going to get a hook stuck in their body, but questions of how many times it will happen and how bad it gets stuck. It might even be a good idea to practice cutting a hook with your off hand just in case you’re fishing solo and your primary hand is the one bearing the new jewelry.
A Fish Tote
A fish tote or similar large, plastic bin serves many purposes for the traveling surfcaster. I keep a pair of plastic bins in the back of my truck at all times. One holds my spare tackle, batteries, flashlights, first aid kit, bolt cutters, extra gloves, spray lubricant and other miscellaneous supplies, while the other holds the gear I wear. On the way to a surf spot things like my plug bag, belt, dry top, etc. goes into the bin. At the end of the night all my gear goes back into the bin so it’s easy to grab it the next morning to clean. In the event that I harvest a fish, I simply dump the gear out and place the fish inside for the ride home, transferring the fish to a cooler or refrigerator once home, and thereby eliminating the need for one more thing in my truck.