Saturday, September 1, 2012


I've been working on a post about this subject for a year ago tonight. I never really got said the things I wanted to say, and tended to ramble on about this aspect and that of fishing gear and fishing.

So here's another try.

A lot of my fishing these days is on a few certain rivers in my vicinity. Unfortunately, the river I live closest to doesn't contain my kind of fishing, so I have to drive an hour or more to get to some of the more pristine rivers and creeks in my area, which in turn carry a more pristine kind of fish, a healthier fish, if you will.

I've long been a sucker for anything labeled "lightweight" or "ultralight". My Spyderco Delica lightweight knife is very lightweight and is still going strong after 20 years. My Colt Cobra and the Smith and Wesson Model 38 Bodyguard are indeed lightweight as well. They're both going strong after 30 and 20 years each respectively.

It's appropriate that the above examples of lightweight items are items that have often been a part of my fishing kit.

One item I plan to use this fall on a certain Central Texas river is a mesh vest I got recently on ebay. It took some looking until I found the one I wanted, because although a mesh vest can be lightweight, it can also be heavier than a regular canvas fishing vest.

I found an old Garcia mesh and cotton vest in excellent condition. It has just enough pockets to be useful. I plan on velcroing in a large patch in one of the large pockets to velcro a J frame synthetic holster to to carry either a J frame or similar lightweight snubbie. On the other side of the vest will go a waterproof wallet with ID, cell, extra set of keys, etc to balance out the weight. Some fly boxes in other pockets, and a lure box with some lures and spinners and spoons and what have you, generally a basic river selection.

I can either hang the fishing lanyard I've been using for several years off of my neck or poke it into the back pocket of the vest.

Another idea I had was to make a fishing kit case out of a Pelican hardcase, one of the two that are carry on size. Actually, one is actually carry on size, and the other is a few inches bigger than that one. I've seen lots of folks using the smaller cases for carry on suitcases in recent years, and they are certainly durable.

It gave me the idea that it'd be an excellent case to stuff with some travel rods and reels and some lures and tackle and a "travel" rifle like the Springfield Armory M6, the Henry .22 Survival rifle, the Ruger takedown 10/22 or even one of the takedown Browning BLR's with the shorter 20" barrel might fit if arranged diagonally.

You could make any kind of outdoorsman kit that you wanted to. I recently used a wheeled carry on suitcase in our trip through the Ozarks to tote a basic tackle setup that would cover most any situation I'd encounter. It was handy to be able to wheel down to a fishing spot, and it was handy to be able to move it from the SUV to the hotel room at every stop to prevent it from being stolen.

But I'd like to take it up a notch and put the gear in a hard case. I don't think I'd use the foam lining because it would take up too much room that other gear could fill. Using as much "lightweight" gear as possible in such a rig means that you can theoretically tote more stuff at less weight than normal.

I've been looking for a deal on one of these Pelican cases and I'm sure I'll find one sooner or later.

My inspiration for this Pelican cased fishing kit is the Survival Kit that Smith and Wesson made several years ago, using a HUGE PISTOL and various survival gear in smaller Pelican case. I've actually got a Pelican case that size that I used to use to tote Digital Audio Recording equipment around to gigs with. I'm thinking of repurposing that to a "grab and go" survival kit that could be carried inconspicuously in a shoulder bag just a wee bit bigger than the Pelican case itself.

Note that any mention of carrying firearms in a "carry on" bag does not mean this bag is for use when flying. I'm planning on using the carry on Pelican case in auto trips, not for plane trips. If you do plan double duty for your Pelican based fishing kit case, be sure to clear all ammo, knives and firearms from the case before actually carrying it on to a plane. Even then, the fact you once had gunpowder in that case will probably trigger alerts at the screening station, as bags of mine that formally had contained ammo or been to the shooting range and perhaps had some tiny whiff of gunpowder residue on them have led to full searches of my bags. Which is fine, by the way. I now keep a set of traveling bags that has never had a firearm or ammo in them.

Some years ago, I had a large long doctors bag made of leather that I used as a fishing kit bag. I velcro'ed a large patch on one of the inside sides of the bag and used that to mount soft holsters and knife and plier sheaths. It held a good amount of reels and small tackle boxes and could have held some smaller travel rods.

It disappeared with a saddle repair shop owner long ago. I  took it in to have the bottom and sides reinforced, and a couple of days later he was GONE!

I also have a nice bag that was a gimme from a cologne company in the early 1980's. It is a canvas and leather old time traveling bag that opens from the top with a frame. It has a huge front pocket and a rubberized backside pocket large enough for a Thompson Contender 12" .45 Colt/.410 barreled pistol with large Pachmayr stocks on it. In a holster.

That bag might perhaps be the perfect bag, but after hundreds of trips, it's time for retirement for use as a closet storage bag. A well deserved retirement. The zippers still work, barely, but their days are numbered. Perhaps I'll get around to getting two new zippers installed on it and reviving it. It's long enough to hold the smaller sized travel rods, those that are about 16" or so when broken down, and it's always been a lucky bag if you believe in that sort of thing.

It's fished by dams in Colorado and on spring creeks in California. It's been bonefishing in the Bahamas and literally all over the state of Texas fishing for thirty years. For most of the 1980's, it was my trunk fishing bag that was kept in the car along with some rods and reels for fishing opportunities that arose unexpectedly, which they did back then with a lot more frequency than currently in my life.

I keep searching on ebay for bags like it that are not too worn out or too expensive. I think I'll give another look tomorrow at getting new zippers for the old reliable bag. I know a seamstress with a heavy duty sewing machine adept at such things, but it'll cost me.

In the meantime, I've been using a mega-tackle box from days of yore, the Umco Possum Belly, with a removeable bottom area. I've placed various travel rods and reels in the bottom section and with the humongous top section filled with a TON of lures and bait fishing gear both new and old, I could cover every fishing situation I'd encounter from the smallest creek to saltwater bay and light surf fishing.

With the addition of a travel surf rod that won't fit into the Umco, I could cover heavy duty surf fishing as well. The Umco does contain, however, a short six foot "pier" casting travel rod that can cover fish up to 35 or 40 pounds. In addition to using it for saltwater pier and jetty fishing, it works well for catfishing for large cats.

Since I've already got a great tackle box setup for Saltwater, the Umco will be outfitted for mostly freshwater fishing from the smallest to the largest. I figure to put some empty plastic lure boxes in the bottom of the upper Umco box for picking and choosing various lures to carry in my fishing vest or fishing shoulder bag, as the Umco is too big to be carrying any real distance at all.

I remember taking a friend fishing who had the Possum Belly back the seventies. It totally took up WAY much space on our 18 foot fishing boat that had quite a bit of floor space to begin with.

 I do have a folding two wheeler that would fit inside the Umco, and a little velcro on the bottom of the Umco and on the toe of the two wheeler would work wonders keeping it on the two wheeler.

The beauty of the Umco is using it as a satellite station to store and carry tackle. As the fishing situation changes, lures can be taken in and out of the box at the vehicle, and put in smaller boxes or bags for use in the field. Again, it can be easily hefted onto a hotel luggage cart or a small two wheeler for toting into hotels for secure storage overnight on fishing trips.

I've got a small zippered mesh bag that goes back and forth between fresh and salt water tackle boxes. It's the kind that goes in a 3 ring binder for school supplies. It contains my favored pairs of fishing pliers, snake bite kit, some basic repair tools, line cutters and the like. Things I use all the time both salt and freshwater fishing. I carry a set of wirecutters to cut hooks in case of an accidental hooking so the barbs can quickly be cut off and the hook safely my opinion, excellent wire cutters are essential.  I carry extras of different brands in each box as a backup, but have my favored tools with me no matter which venue I'm fishing in.

I also try to have a small first aid kit, a lighter, a knife/multitool,  some sanitizer, at least one bottle of water and a snake bit kit in every tackle box or pack I take with me, even if it's redundent to gear (that I might think is) already in the kit bag.

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