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The Summer is one of the best times to go out fishing, especially if you have a family and are into camping. There are so many different places you can go, and for the most part, if you get up early enough, you can beat the heat for almost half the day and fishing can be awesome. I have compiled a list of things that I bring on every single trip I go on in the summer that ensures I have the best possible day on the lake, river, or pond. It is very important, especially in the heat like I have in California, that you bring the proper gear, or you are just going to have a miserable day, and my philosophy is, even if you are not catching as many fish as you want, enjoy being outside and try to have as much fun as you can so you don’t feel like you have wasted a whole day of your life. With that being said, onto the list of must have gear and items to make your summer fishing trip a great one.

1. Sunglasses

Sunglasses made it to the top of my list because your eyes are extremely important to keep safe. Without proper eye protection, you can easily burn your eyes, or hurt them to the point where you could possible go blind. Why is that? Well, you may not notice it very much, but light reflects off the water causing some serious damage to your skin and eyes. Wearing the right sunglasses can help in more ways than one when it comes to fishing. First, you get the protection against the glare off the lake and UV rays, depending on what type of sunglasses you get. Second, if you wear polarized lenses in your glasses, you can cut a ton of the glare out, and you might actually be able to see fish where you normally couldn’t. I did a whole article about sunglasses and fishing which can be found HERE, and will give you all the information you need to know about the importance, and benefits of them.

2. The Right Rod

This is an obvious give in, but you know the saying, “pick the right tool for the job”. This is going to be extremely important depending on where you are going to fish, and what you are going to fish for. You might not use the same rod setup for trout, as you would bass or catfish. And you might use a completely different rod for river fishing than you would for lake or pond fishing. Depending on where you are going, and what you might want to catch, you will have to pick the right rod for the job. Here is a little break down of my rod setups, and what I use them for:

  • Ultralight Spinning Rod: Lake and Stream fishing for trout. This rod will will usually have four to six pound test, and is good for just throwing it out and letting it sit with salmon eggs, worms, or PowerBait, but also will work with a nice Kastmaster lure as well. Be careful in a fast moving river with an ultra light rod, or you will end up with it bent in half all day from the current.
  • Medium / Medium Heavy Spinning Rod: Lake, Pond, or River fishing for Trout and Bass. I typically keep my medium rods for bass, but do fish a stronger current river with it so it has some back bone on it. I also usually have braided line on this setup, with about 20 to 30 yards of mono leader attached. This setup will also work well for catfish too. I tend to put a little heavier line on for larger bass, about 12 pound braid.
  • Baitcast Rod: Lakes and Ponds for Bass and Catfish. I typically only use my baitcast rod for bass fishing, but I have caught catfish with it as well. I will keep braided line on this rod with about 20 to 30 yards of mono leader. 12 to 15 pound braid is what I have on mine right now, with 8 pound leader.
  • Fly Rod: River and Stream Trout Fishing. I am horrible at fly fishing, but I absolutely love the sport. I have my fly rod setup just for river and stream fishing, and only use it for trout.
  • Spincast Rod: Lakes and Ponds Bass and Trout Fishing. I have a nice little spincast rod that I take with me when I just want to go out and throw my bait in the water. It has 8 pound mono test on it, and I primarily use it for trout fishing, but have taken it to a few bass ponds I fish.

If you only have one or two rods in your collection, you might not have to worry about this, and you can just take your favorite rod out, and have fun. As your collection grows, you will probably have different lengths, and different pound test like I do for specific fishing.

3. Sun Screen

Sun block is going to be your savior when it comes to fishing, period. Having sun screen is going to ensure that you do not have to take days off after a day out fishing because you can’t move from a horrible sun burn. The problem with sun burns is that it takes some time to feel them, and usually it is not until you are driving home, or get home and look in the mirror and start freaking out. I fish in a t-shirt or tank top usually, and carry a TON of sun block with me. If you get the spray on kind like I normally use, make sure you re-apply it every hour or so to ensure you are getting the maximum protection. If you have kids with you, I highly suggest the kind of sun block that you have to rub on, as it tends to last longer on them, especially if you let them get into the water (or if they get in without your permission like mine do). There are several different SPF’s out there, and I typically use a spf 50 while fishing. Yes, you can get a sun burn even if you are under the shade or it is overcast outside! The sun reflects off the water, and I have made the mistake of thinking that since I was in the shade I would not get sun burned, and I was very, very wrong. Save your sick time for when you really need it, and put on some sun block before, and during your fishing trip, so you don’t look like a lobster at the end of the day.

4. Breakfast, Snacks, And More Snacks

Eating is what helps us live, and keeps our body going throughout the day. Without it, we would become lethargic and have no energy to do anything, so having a good breakfast before heading out to go fishing is extremely important. I typically eat a bowl of oatmeal with some coffee before I head out to go fishing, but anything like cereal, toast, eggs or fruit is another good idea. I have stopped at a fast food chain and gotten something fast, but a key thing to remember is that sometimes bathrooms are as rare commodity out on a lake, so if fast food upsets your stomach, I would steer clear from it, unless you know that you will be okay. If you are going to be out fishing on the lake all day, it is going to be extremely important to bring snacks with you because you will get hungry. Walking around the lake or river, and catching fish is going to burn energy, and at some point your body is going to start to slow down. To keep this from happening, try snacking every hour or so on something light, but try not to make it a full meal unless you are having lunch. Too much food is going to cause you to get sleepy, and unless you have a fold up chair to take a nap in, I would recommend monitoring your food intake. Here are some of my staple snacks I bring with me:

  • Fruit: I will generally take an apple or an orange with me for the simple sugar for that boost of energy when I am getting sluggish. Grapes or strawberries are also a good fruit to bring, but is harder to keep from getting smashed, so that will only work if you have a place to put them that is safe.
  • Granola Bars: These little guys are easy to store, and pack some good protein and fiber while you are out on the lake. Some can have quite a bit of sugar, so watch out for the sugar rush, AND crash if you get the chocolate ones. These are one of my favorite snacks.
  • Trail Mix: I love trail mix, and it is a staple for my fishing diet. It has nuts, fruit, and can come with chocolate (or white chocolate) chips. I can eat this stuff by the handfuls, and the protein in the nuts will fuel your body.
  • Beef Jerky: Even though beef jerky might sound like a very unhealthy snack, it can be quite good, and if you make it yourself, can save you on the price. It is a nice thin bag that will fit just about anywhere, and is a good snack while you are walking.
  • Fruit Snacks: I buy my kids the 100% fruit juice, fruit snacks, so I will grab a few pouches of them and throw them in my back pack to take with me. They are very delicious if you like sweets like me, and are not all that unhealthy. Easy to store, and don’t usually melt in the heat.
  • String Cheese: I love string cheese, and it is a pretty healthy snack to have as long as you don’t eat too much of it. Keep in mind that these should be stored somewhere cool, and are not very good after sitting in a hot tackle box or back pack all day.
  • Nuts: I love to take nuts with me on my fishing trips, especially almonds. I buy a big bag of the plain almonds at Costco, and fill up a zip lock bag of them before I leave. These are a good source of protein and energy, and are pretty durable for any tackle box or back pack.

As you can see, a lot of what I bring is easy to keep in a back pack, or even a tackle box, and will not take up a lot of room. I tend to do more snacks that are somewhat healthy for me, and gives me the most energy while out on the lake. I do a lot of walking, so I try to keep my fuel levels up. A lot of these snacks are in water proof plastic, so even if they fall in the water, they are still good.

5. A Hat

There are several reasons that a hat is a staple for all fishing trips, especially during the summer. There are few reasons that I must have a hat out when I am fishing and why it can be a life saver when you are out on the water. Here are a just a few reasons why I ALWAYS bring a hat with me fishing.

  • Glare: Wearing a hat will cut down on the glare, and the sun beating in your eyes, even if you are wearing sunglasses. It will keep the direct sun off your face, and provide your eyes with extra protection.
  • Sun Protection: Even the top of your head can get sun burned, with or without a full head of hair, and most people do not like spray sun screen on their head, so this will keep the top of your head from getting fried.
  • Ears, Nose And Neck: A good fishing hat can save your ears, nose and neck from getting burned, which will save you from some unwanted pain after fishing. Nothing is worse then a sun burn on your nose or ears.
  • Lure Holder: Of course you can always attach a lure to your hat with the hook, but be careful that you do not ruin your hat with the barbed hook, or hook your head when putting the hat on. There are specifically designed hats just for lures and flies.
  • Sweat: This is a big reason why I wear a hat, because I sweat really bad in the heat, so my hat catches all my sweat so it does not run into my eyes. This is really important because sweat in the eyes burns really bad, and sweat can also make sun screen run off.

As you can see, there are a lot of really good reasons to bring a hat. If you are like me, and have, well, less hair on top, then it will be a life saver for both your head and sweat while out in the heat.

6. The Right Clothing

It is a good idea that you wear the right clothing when fishing during the summer, depending on where you might be fishing. Where I live, it can get really HOT during the day, but could cool off significantly during the night, so the need for some extra clothes is a must. Typically I wear shorts, and a good pair of hiking boots, or tennis shoes that are nice and light for walking. I lighter colored shirt will also help reflect some of the sun off of you better than a dark colored or black shirt. If you know that it starts to cool down at night, you may want to bring a flannel with you that can be tied around your waist, or easily stuffed into a back pack, in case it gets cold. Always bring an extra pair of socks with you in case you get your feet wet. Here is a small list of what I wear and any extra clothes I might bring:

  • Feet: Tennis shoes, or hiking boots.
  • Chest: Light Colored, or white t-shirt.
  • Legs: Shorts, or cargo pants that can be converted into shorts.
  • Head: Hat and sunglasses are must out there.
  • Extras: Always bring at least an extra shirt, and a pair of socks in case something happens. I usually bring an extra pair of clothes with me in case I have to chase my kids into the lake. I also bring a towel, and a hooded sweatshirt with me.
7. The Right Tackle

Of course you want to bring the correct tackle with you for what type of fish you want to catch, but there is also some tackle that you might want to bring in case you just want to sit and relax for a bit. If you are a lure or plastic worms person, that always likes to cast and reel back in should probably bring some PowerBait and definitely some bobbers with you in case you just want to sit down and relax for a bit, you can always throw your line out and take a rest, and still catch fish in the process!

8. First Aid / Survival Kit

When going out to fish, no matter whether it is the forest, or just down the street to your neighborhood lake or pond, it is always necessary to bring a First Aid Kit with some very important survival items. You never know when something might happen, like getting a hook stuck in your hand, or slipping and falling on a wet rock, so having something available to keep the area clean and dry is a must. There also might be times where you walk just a little too far, and possible get turned around or lost and have to wait for morning, or help to arrive, so having some life saving essentials is important. Below is a brief list of stuff that you absolutely need to bring with you to survive.

  • Bandages: Bandages are a must while fishing because you might cut, poke, or get bit by a fish and need a quick bandage to put over it. Keep at least a few of these in your bag at all times.
  • Gauze And Tape: For bigger accidents, like slipping on a rock, or something that causes a bit more damage than a bandage can handle, you will want to bring some square gauze pads, and some tape to keep the wound clean until you can get home, or to a doctor.
  • Matches: I cannot stress how important water proof matches are, and they could save your life if you get stuck in the woods. You can use them light a fire to stay warm, or to heat up a knife to kill bacteria. Never leave home without matches.
  • Sharp Knife: A sharp knife is going to be a blessing if you, or your kids get a splinter, or really need to dig something out. Just make sure you clean the blade before getting it close to your skin because you could get a nasty infection.
  • Antiseptic Cream: Antiseptic cream will keep your wounds from getting infected, so that is a staple to a first aid kit. There is a lot of dirt and germs out on the lake and a lot of creatures that you do not even see spend their time around the water, so it is important to keep your injury clean and away from the possibility of infection.
  • Scissors: Scissors are always good for cutting the tape, gauze, and possibly even clothes if the need arises. A knife will do the trick in a pinch, but scissors will reduce the possibility of cutting yourself.

All of the above items will save your fishing day if something happens, but more importantly will keep you healthy and clean in case an accident happens. All of these items will fit in something smaller than a lunch box, and are light enough to where you won’t even notice a difference in your gear weight. Always stay safe when fishing, hiking, or camping.

9. Water

When it is hot, the most important thing you can do to your body is keep it hydrated. The possibility of dehydration is a very serious risk when out fishing in the summer time. Water is going to save your life in more ways than just dehydration, it can also be used to clean wounds, wash off, and can be cooked with out by the lake if you have to eat. I would not suggest using lake or river water to drink, or clean with unless you know that you have killed any bacteria that might be living in it. Here are some signs that you need to understand about dehydration when you are out fishing:

  • Increased Thirst.
  • Dry Mouth.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Decreased Urine, or yellowish.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Confusion.

As you can see, even though soda, beer, and juice might sound like a good drink to bring with you, it is always good to have a few bottles (or one large bottle) with you at all times for safety. If you have any (or all) of the symptoms above, get some water in your system quickly.

10. Swim Trunks

If you are like me, and live in a place with beautiful lakes and rivers, then you know that swimming in them is extremely fun. I always pack an extra pair of board shorts with me in case I get way too hot. There is nothing like standing out in the heat fishing, and taking a quick jump in the water to cool off, and to get all the dirt and sweat off my body. My kids love to swim, so I will take a break with them and just have some fun. Fishing is fun, and I love catching fish, but it’s also good to cut loose and enjoy. Go for a swim, or wade out in the water a little bit and get your feet wet. This will keep your body cool and able to fish for a few more hours.

11. Bug Repellent

When you are out fishing, the last thing that you want is to get eaten alive by flies, mosquito’s and other nasty little insects. I always carry some OFF, or other bug repellent with me just in case there are insects around. Mosquito’s usually are around stagnant bodies of water that have little or no wake or movement on them, which can turn into a nasty breeding ground. If you see a lot of algae and dead water around, be careful about any insects that can be flying around. Ticks are also another big problem because they can get into your skin and cause a lot of problems for you and your family. Ticks carry lime disease, and mosquito’s can care the West Nile virus, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

12. Shade Tent

If you are taking the whole family out for a day on the lake or river, it might be a good idea to invest in an E-Z UP, or some other sort of portable shade device to keep you, and your kids out of the sun. They are fairly inexpensive, and are pretty easy to put together by yourself, or a second person, and can be tilted so that the shade can cover many angles. The only one downside to this is that they can be a bit heavy, so if you fishing spot is a mile away from your car, you could have a tough time getting it there by yourself. Even though they do have cases, and some come with wheels on them, it is still going to be a lot of working moving it through sand and rocks, unless you can pick it up and carry it. They do have small half tents that are designed for the beach that are really very good at keeping you out of the sun, and are a lot lighter, so that may be a good option for you if you have kids. Here is an example of the half dome shade tents for a family.

13. Shovel

A shovel will definitely come in handy to keep in the back of your car or truck, because you never know when you are going to need to either dig your car out of the mud, or build a make shift bathroom. There are several places where I like to fish in California that have no bathrooms at all, so you really do have to rough it out there. If you accidentally drive to close to the lake or river, and there is a lot of mud, a shovel will help get you out of any sticky situations. They have very small collapsible shovels that can fit in a back pack.

14. Toilet Paper

I know, you are asking, why the heck would I need toilet paper. Well, There are a few reasons why you might need it out on the water, and of course the biggest reason is not having a bathroom. There are several lakes that I live around where they are just to desolate, and do not have bathrooms, not even a port-a potty, so you kinda need to bring your own stuff. Sometimes lake bathrooms might run out of toilet paper as well, and having some in your car, truck, or SUV will save your day. Another reason is you have a bloody nose, or need to blow your nose, or anything that might require a softer sort of paper other than a paper towel. Having a roll of toilet paper is going to get you out of a jam, I promise.

Conclusion

All of these items put together will create a fishing pack that is going to make your fishing trip a success no matter what you meet out there. Always think of you, and your families personal safety first with things like sunscreen, bug repellent, and first aid, because those three things will save your trip, and your following days, or weeks depending on what happens out there. Make sure you get the right gear for the trip, and bring a few things in case you want to just have a lazy, or high movement day around the water. Always think of food and water while you are out away from home, especially fishing because it could be a long drive back to civilization for either of them. All in all, these previous items were selected to help you minimize taking everything “and the kitchen sink”, so always add or remove anything that you know is or is not a necessity to bring with you. Finally, have fun out there and stay safe, and always be on the look out for things like snakes, bears, and mountain lions, OH MY!