Prepare for Your Fishing Trip

It's National Go Fishing Day! Get your rod, reel, hook and bait and head to your nearest creek or pond, or on a fishing expedition to a scenic lake. But don't overlook certain details in your excitement. Here are some important points to keep in mind before your first cast.

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Get Your License and Registration

Not so long ago, obtaining a fishing license was a process. Especially in remote towns, where you had to ask around to find out which stores or bait shops sold them, locate the shop, and wait for it to open.

With the Internet, all that time has been condensed to the click of the mouse. Simply find the state in which you'll be fishing, and buy the license online. If you'll be fishing, you'll need a license, period.

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Count on Bad Weather

The temperature of the air will feel cooler on the water than on land, especially during the early morning or evening hours. And with no buffer for the wind, being in a boat can get chilly. Add to that the ever-present possibility of rain, and you've got the makings for misery or, worse, hypothermia. Pack a good sweater or fleece and rain gear, so your fishing trip and your health don't get spoiled when the weather turns.

Organize Your Gear

Your gear should be organized in a way that's logical in situations where time is of the essence. Crucial items like a first-aid kit or scissors and pliers for cutting line and hooks should be easily accessible at all times, as should drinks and snacks. Sunscreen, even on cloudy days, should be kept out at the top of your pack or tackle box, and applied often.

Keep your permits or licenses in a sealable plastic bag or other waterproof container—and make them easy to get to. I like to tape mine to the side of my boat or canoe at the beginning of every trip. Bring extra rods, reels, spools of line and tackle, and extra fuel if you'll be in a powerboat. And if you're planning to pack out some of the fish fillets at the end of the trip, don't forget a cooler with ice.

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