He spent about a half hour looking for the menhaden schools, but when it became obvious they had moved offshore he headed to an area of structure known for holding stripers and started trolling bunker spoons. It didn’t take long before they hooked their first fish, a fat 30 pound striped bass that would be one of ten they caught trolling that morning. A couple hours later they saw birds diving about a half mile away so they brought in the trolling rods, pushed up throttles for the outboards and ran over to find a school of stripers that had pushed a school of menhaden to the surface that was holding in deep water offshore to the surface. It was pandemonium. Using the spinning rods, poppers and plastic shads they caught a few more bass under wildly exciting conditions that they would have never even seen if they had only come prepared to fish with live menhaden.
The story should be a learning experience for every saltwater angler regardless of whether they fish inshore or offshore. It never hurts to bring more tackle than you think you because the alternative is to only bring the bare minimum and not have what you might need when opportunity knocks. Toward that end here are a few things that you can do to help streamline your preparation.
Put together a few plastic tackle boxes and keep them on your boat at all times. One should be filled with a variety of hooks and rigging paraphernalia accompanied by a selection of leader material so you can make a wide variety of bait rigs at a moments notice. Stock another box with a selection of plastic-bodied jigs, swim shads and bucktails of various sizes and weights. Fill another with a selection of poppers and swimming plugs and a forth with metal jigs. The more tackle you keep on your boat the less you have to carry with you each time you go out. Just remember to replenish your supplies as needed.
The night before you go fishing is when you run mental checklists to be prepared for the widest range of opportunities. Think about what you want to do and then think about alternate plans in case your main target species or technique doesn’t pan out. Think about what kind of baits you might want to have on hand and pick them up at the bait shop on your way to the boat in the morning. Make sure you have an assortment of rods and reels to cover all the bases you identify and any specialty lures required for each technique. Then load the truck before you go to bed.
Fishing is like a box of chocolates so be prepared to enjoy whatever you get. Like chocolates, it’s always sweet when you can capitalize on an opportunity. Y