The current trend of emulating bass boats is simply wrong. Although there are a few tournament situations where there is a definite need to carry the kitchen sink, the majority of the time you only need a simple selection of tackle to get the job done. Bass boats are made to haul an entire year’s worth of tackle and twenty-plus rod combos; a kayak is not. It is time for a paradigm shift. The system I use lets me reduce weight and simplify my tackle selection so I am more effective on the water.
Tailoring each trip’s tackle load-out not only saves weight and clutter, but it also helps you key in on patterns more quickly because you are already considering the patterns in your garage and will have an excellent starting point when you launch.
What you need
You need stackable bulk storage bins, pegboard, and Plano 3700 deep boxes or high-end boxes like the Bass Mafia “Bait Coffin”.
I organize all of my lures, tackle, and soft plastics onto pegboard hangers or bulk bins by lure type, color, and size so I can quickly pick and choose a custom load-out for each trip. I then load either a Bait Coffin or Plano 3700 Deep series “Day Box” with lures that match the specific body of water, seasonal patterns, forage, target species, and expected weather patterns.
Variables I consider when loading out
- Consider the entire body of water. What type of water clarity is normally expected? What type of water depths are expected where you are launching? Do you anticipate beating the banks and fishing shallow, or using your graph to find fish offshore? Use Google maps to scan the shorelines around your launch area and look for docks, grass, laydowns, rip rap, or other shoreline cover.
- Early spring: a-rigs, lipless crank baits, football jigs, jerkbaits
- Spring: white creature baits, lizards, bed fishing baits, jigs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Senkos, swimbaits o xxxSummer: topwater, flukes, Senkos, creature baits, buzzbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits
- Fall: jigs, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, square bills, flukes, topwater
- Winter: a-rigs, football jigs, spoons, float-n-fly, soft swimbaits
- Forage: Although a large percentage of my catches come on shad imitation baits whether or not shad are present, it is still wise to try to mimic available forage. Gizzard shad call for larger offerings, perch call for yellow and orange baits, and bream and blue gill can be imitated with purples, oranges, and greens
- Target species: Make sure to pack specifically for the species you intend to target. I leave the small stuff at home when I am going for musky or striped bass, but downsize when targeting smaller species like white bass or crappie
- Expected weather patterns: Wind is your friend when it comes to fishing reaction baits and topwaters, so pack heavy if you are expecting weather with overcast conditions, wind, and a front moving through. On projected bluebird sunny days I mostly pack finesse or natural baits, and keep only a few reaction baits for those low-light dawn and dusk hours. Also, flashy chrome paint schemes excel in bright sunlight, but on overcast days the bone or white-based lures are the ticket.
- Water clarity: If you expect muddy water, pack lures that function better in stained conditions. Leave the drop shots, Senkos and finesse gear at home and be sure to pack in some buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and square-bill crankbaits to draw strikes. Also, ditch the clear or translucent crankbaits and topwaters in favor for solid or bright color patterns. Finally, separate your plastics into natural colors and dark colors. I use bama craw, green pumpkin, and watermelon red in clear water, but switch out to purple, June bug, black and blue, and black soft plastics when there is a stain to the water
Try tailoring your “day box” to meet the specific criteria that your chosen body of water presents and leave anything extra at home. Not only will this save you time and effort on the water, you will be that much more dialed in to prevailing patterns and you will save some serious weight and headache at the boat ramp.