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Volume 16, Issue 10 - March 6 - 12, 2008

Tidewater Go-Bags

Fishing season’s coming; pack your bags now

Go-bag is military slang for a compact utility pack that contains the essentials for a soldier’s operational specialty. In an urgent deployment, a soldier can be out the door and mission capable in seconds.

In the case of a Chesapeake angler, this relates to much more sedate and far less critical undertakings. On the Bay our missions include objectives such as the capture of perch, rockfish, croaker, bluefish, sea trout and similarly delicious alternatives.

Still, I like being ready to go with a minimum of fuss. But being ever ready can be a challenge, as many of our fish species have distinctly different requirements. Utilizing inexpensive but durable carpenter’s tool bags, I created go-bags for each of the species that I regularly pursue, plus one for my skiff. It has proven an ideal system, and I’d like to share it with you.

The Skiff Go-Bag

The skiff bag contains the required Coast Guard safety equipment plus extra spark plugs and a plug wrench; a multi-head screwdriver; extra nav-light bulbs; electrical tape; a camera and remote camera mount; an extra marina gate key; and a motor-kill switch.

It also includes a tube of silicone sealant; a stainless Leatherman-type utility tool; an adjustable wrench; a folding knife; wire cutters; a couple of compact, inexpensive plastic rain ponchos; a hand-held VHF marine radio and a good flashlight — both with backup batteries — band aids and a half-dozen trail mix bars.

Fish Are Biting

The cold snap slowed the yellow perch run, but it’s back on now. The pickerel bite has picked up, too. Too cold as yet for Susquehanna Flats stripers on lures; we’ll need water temps approaching 50 degrees for that. But with a little warm weather and the fish gods willin’, it could happen soon.

This may sound like a bulky assortment, but it is all contained in a bag that is just 16 by 10 by eight inches.

The Go-Bag for Small Fish

My small-fish go-bag is also compact at 12 by nine by eight inches. It contains a few small plastic utility boxes holding my favorite lures. There is a spoon box containing a number of feather-dressed Tony Accetta No. 12s; one-eighth-ounce Johnson Silver Spoons; a couple of Nungesser 40s and one-eighth-ounce Acme Kastmasters — all in both gold and silver. Included also is a box with smaller soft-bodied jigs, such as the Bass Assassin, and another with a selection of shad darts and few Northland Forage Minnows.

Two lure wallets nicely hold my safety-pin-type lures such as Beetle Spins (in white) and Super Rooster Tails, especially the one-sixth ounce in models CLCD, CHDA and LICH.

In the pouch pockets of the carpenter bag are tucked a couple of hi-lo bottom rigs with No. 4 spinner bladed hooks stored in snack-sized zip-lock bags; Fishbites artificial bloodworm strips; a good selection of bobbers and various sized sinkers; a line clipper; ceramic hook hone; and a hemostat for hook removal.

If I can’t handily secure a nice mess of perch, yellow and white or even crappie and croaker with this equipment, whether by skiff or bank fishing, they can’t be caught. When I add a couple of No. 4 Mepps spinners to the kit, it will also cover pickerel expeditions.

The Bay Go-Bag

My Bay striper bag is, I confess, a bit more complex. The largest of the go-bags, it measures 16 by 12 by 10 inches and contains a large compartmented clear plastic box in an exterior pouch plus four similar boxes inside. It covers the necessaries for not only rockfish but also blues, weakfish, spotted sea trout, Spanish mackerel and the occasional redfish.

The exterior stored box holds all the terminal tackle for bait-fishing and live-lining. Three interior boxes contain a selection of the appropriate size surface and swimming plugs in an assortment of models and colors. The fourth box has a selection of Bass Assassin-type jigs.

The satchel’s smaller integral pouches contain my leader materials (steel, mono, and flurocarbon); an extra tape measure; a line clipper and ceramic hook hone; hemostat; a folding knife; and a couple of small flashlights in case I want to extend my fishing past dark — which I often do.

Aside from grabbing the appropriate rods and reels, I can be out the door in minutes, fully equipped to engage any of my favorite Tidewater critters. It sure works for me.

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