So, what do we all need to have in our tackle boxes? Here’s a list of the five most important things you need to have in your tackle box :
How many people do you know that do not have a knife at their disposal when they fish? Whether it’s a bait knife – a cheap knife you can use to cut bait – or a filet knife, you need to have a knife really at your fingertips. Knives can cut bait, but they can do more. They cut lines when needed and they are used to clean and/or filet the fish you catch. No angler should be without a knife when fishing. Even a pocket knife is better than no knife at all.
Pliers are the fisherman’s friend on many fronts. The pliers I use are the long nosed variety. They can grip a hook and remove it from a fish. They can also be used when helping to tie a hook on a leader. My pliers have a sharp cutting edge on them, and I keep them in a holder on my belt. I use them to cut line, cut leaders – even wire – and I use them to help remove a hook from a fish. I actually use these pliers more than I do a knife, except when cleaning or fileting a fish. They, to me are the most important item I can have with me.
- Clean Cloth
A rag. Some people use a cloth or rag when grasping a fish to remove the hook. Personally I don’t grab a fish with a rag. If I am going to keep the fish, I grab it, remove the hook and put the fish in the ice chest. Then I use the rag to help clean my hands of fish slime. I like to keep my fish rag wet. I wash it out over the side of the boat, wring it out, and have it handy on my center console. If you fish from a pier or the bank, you can do the same. A damp rag is easier to use than a dry rag.
Fish rags also help keep the boat clean. If you can wipe up the fish blood and slime while it is still fresh, it makes the boat a whole lot easier to clean when you get in. Any of you who have caught dolphin can attest to the blood situation. Dried dolphin blood can be a real bear to remove from your boat when you get in. It’s interesting that it seems to be so much harder to remove dolphin blood than that of other fish.
- First Aid Kit
I probably should have listed this item first. But a first aid kit, even a simple one with a couple of band aids, can really make a difference in your fishing day. Saltwater fish have sharp fins and sharp gill plates, not to mention toothy mouths! It is easy to get stuck or cut, and that open wound, combined with some fish slime, can be painful. Because your hands are often wet when fishing, those cuts and punctures tend to bleed more. A Band-Aid and some first aid antiseptic will help prevent infection and help stop the bleeding. Some antiseptics even have a pain killer included. Trust me – a hard head (saltwater catfish) fin can be one of the more painful experiences you can have on the water.
- Measuring Device
Almost every fish we catch has some sort of size limit imposed on it by the fish and wildlife folks in the various states. To be sure you are not breaking the law, you need a measuring tape. Tackle shops sell them and some of them actually have all the species and the limits listed on them. Some are even made like a piece of tape, and they stick right to a flat, smooth surface on your boat. Some tackle boxes even have a molded in ruler on their lid. But, to be safe, take a measuring tape at least as long as the longest legal fish you might catch. That, in most instances would be 36 inches long. It makes sense to use them. Fines can approach several hundred dollars, and it only takes a minute to measure the fish.