Packing for Your Fly-In Outpost Fishing Trip

by Adam A. Dempsey, Ph.D.

Table of ContentsCanadianAirwaysDHC2b

  1. Educate Yourself
  2. Plan of Attack
  3. Paying the Bills
  4. Menu and Food
    1. Food Packing Tips
    2. Menu Ideas
      1. Breakfast
      2. Lunch
      3. Snacks
      4. Dinner
        1. Main Dishes without fish
        2. Side Dishes
        3. Main Fish Dishes
        4. Dessert
  5. Beverages
  6. Kitchen Items
  7. Bathroom Items
  8. Shared Items for the Cabin
    1. Hardware Kit
    2. Medical Kit
    3. General
  9. Things for Inside the Boat
  10. Clothing
  11. Personal Effects
  12. Packing it all Up
  13. Fishing Rod and Reel Setups
  14. Fish Finders
  15. Live Bait
  16. Fishing Tackle
    1. Walleye
    2. Northern Pike
    3. Smallmouth Bass
    4. Lake Trout
    5. Brook (Speckled) Trout
    6. Perch and other Panfish
    7. Suggested Tackle to Bring
      1. Terminal Tackle
      2. Lures
      3. Plastics
  17. Acknowledgements
  18. Download a PDF copy of the Packing List

 

Educate YourselfPackingTable1

So, your fishing trip is booked and the deposits have been sent in. Now you can relax and start crossing the days off the calendar. Or can you? Unfortunately, you're not there just yet, so quit daydreaming and read on. After-all, this isn't Disney World with pretty princesses and fluttering fairies. We're talking about man versus wild. You alone in the remote wilderness, evading hungry bears and battling ravenous dog-sized mosquitoes. No normal man can survive this with a limited supply of beer on hand, so you must plan your trip accordingly. OK, perhaps it's not that dire, but taking the time to plan and organize your upcoming outpost trip will be well worth the investment. Chance favors the prepared.

 

The first thing that needs to be done is obtain information from your outfitter about what is provided at the outpost camp you are staying at. Not all outfitters include the same things, even outposts operated by the same outfitter can be different. You also need to determine the requirements from the air service provider. Air services often have different weight limit allowances and baggage restrictions. This is especially important if your outfitter is not operating their own air service and chartering another. It's vital to gather this information early on in your trip planning process because everything that follows relies on it. Many outfitters will send you all these details once your deposit is received, but this isn't always the case. If you don't receive this information in a timely fashion, you need to contact your outfitter.

 

eddienorthcabinSome things you need to find out:

  • What do they provide for your group at the cabin? Is it more modern or a bush cabin? Potable water? Is there bedding? Pillows? Boat safety kits? Towels? PFDs? Coolers for boat? Minnow Pail? Satellite phone? Two-way radio? Power available to charge batteries? Do you need an inverter? Power for CPAP machines? Gas generator? Solar power?  Electric start boat motors?  Spare motors/boats?

  • What are the personal weight limitations on the flight? What is the charge for going over the weight limit? What is the best method for packing gear (e.g., Totes, cardboard boxes)? Will they be able to bring in any “excess” gear later on that day or during the mid-week check?

  • Can they pre-fly in any beverages like soda, beer and water or other foodstuffs like oil or canned goods? What is the cost?

  • Do they provide live bait as part of the package? or offer live bait for sale?

Tables 1 and 2 offer some insight into the weight allowances.   In some cases going over your weight limit may cost you $100 to $150 more for the entire group.   That may be well worth the cost if it makes your vacation that much better.   If the outfitter also runs the air service they are usually quite flexible and may not even charge you for being over weight at all (within reason of course!).  However, this can be a problem if the outfitter is chartering the air service.   Since it's a separate company flying you to the camp, they may charge you the charter rate for your extra gear.  The charter rate is the full rate for a flight to and from the designated camp and can easily be $400 or more.   So, I cannot emphasize this enough, please talk to your outfitter if you think you will be overweight so they can make the appropriate arrangements.  This will save you time, money and hopefully any possible headaches.

 

Plan of Attack

 

Once you have the information from your outfitter it's important to make sure every member of your group receives a copy. Next, you must all decide on how to best allocate the groups weight allowance. It's reasonable for each member to offer up at least half their allowance to the group kitty for food and other shared items. Each member is now responsible for their own clothing, personal items and fishing gear. Oftentimes that personal weight allotment also includes snack foods. Make sure everyone pre-weighs all their gear so they know they are within their limits. A bathroom scale should work just fine for a reasonable estimate.

 

It's also important to decide at this point what constitutes individual personal items. Many things can be, and should be, shared amongst the group. For example, do you really need more than one bottle of shampoo, bottle of Tylenol or tube of toothpaste? Once you compile your list of things to bring, go through it with your group to avoid unnecessary duplications. After-all, that extra bottle of Tums works out to be a couple of fishing lures!

 

Finally, the group needs assignments. By now there should be an obvious group leader or head organizer. That is probably you, considering you're reading this article after-all. Next you may want to assign specific tasks to various group members. Essentially, who will be responsible for bringing what specific group items. However, it's often a lot easier if one person takes ownership of all grocery and sundry purchases. Of course, if Bob works at Costco and Jim works at CVS, you're going to want to take advantage of that! Still, one person should make sure all items on the list are packed and loaded up before you head out. Remember, whatever is not in the group containers goes with personal bags and their weight allowance. This prevents anyone “sneaking” extra stuff in, even if they think it's for the good of the group.PackingTable2

 

You should also work out the cabin duties with your group, such as food preparation and cleaning. Who is making what meals and when? For example, one person can be responsible for all meals and cleaning for 1 or 2 days. Maybe it's dinner only and self-serve breakfast and lunch? It will obviously depend on the meal schedule your group decides upon. Some guys eat breakfast on the go, a light lunch in the boat and come in early for a big dinner. Other groups go all out with gourmet meals. Maybe it's fresh fish every night? Every group is different. This may not seem important, but deciding on your groups schedule is key to assigning responsibilities, planning your menu and ultimately being efficient with the food purchases.

 

Paying the Bills

 

In addition to the deposit and final payment to the outfitter, there are additional costs. You have food, gas, travel accommodations,bait and other group items. There are plenty of ways to handle this and often will depend on the size and makeup of your group (long time friends, family or friends of friends you barely know).

 

Here are a few suggestions:

 

  1. Use a kitty system.   At the start of the trip everyone contributes an equal amount of cash to a kitty pool, such as $300 to $500.    One person is in charge of the kitty and pays for all shared group expenses, such as tolls, groceries, gas, hotel, bait and outfitter tips.   The kitty usually doesn't cover individual expenses such as meals on the road, snacks and alcohol for the trip; but that's obvioulsy up to you.   It's always nice if the driver doesn't have to pay for gas, so passengers often put in a few extra dollars for that.  Any leftover money is split amongst the group, carried over for next year or used as a prize in a fishing competition;
  2. One person pays for everything on their credit card.  At the end of the trip [or soon after the trip] the cost is tallied and each group member is billed.    Probably best to use this system if you know your group members well.  This is good alternative to the kitty as you don't have to haul around a lot of cash;

  3. Create a bank account with a debit card. Everyone contributes an equal amount to the account for group expenses and all shared group purchases are drawn from this account. Any leftover money is split amongst the group, carried over for next year or used as a prize in a fishing competition.  This is also a good alternative to the kitty as you don't have to haul around a lot of cash;

  4. Everyone pays for group expenses separately and keeps receipts.  A the end of the trip everyone submits receipts for all expenses related to the group and trip, such as groceries, hotel and gas. At the end of the trip this gets tallied up and divided amongst the group.

 

Nobody wants a deadbeat and everyone deserves to be compensated for their contribution to the group.  So come up with a system that work for you and makes sure nobody gets the short end of the stick.

Also, don't forget to tip your pilot!  The pilot often does more than just fly you in and out.  They can help load up the plane as well as check and help set things up at camp.    Typically a tip would be $20 to $50 total each way.  Of course, this is a tip and you need to decide what level of service was provided and make your own decision.

 Abamasagi-pickup-MB

Menu and Food

 

Food is one of the most important aspects of fly-in trip planning, considering it will likely take up nearly half your groups weight allowance alone. It can be a difficult balancing act though, because you want to be sure you have enough, but too much and it's just a waste of your limited weight allowance. Luckily this really isn't that difficult to accomplish. It just takes some detailed planning and this starts with a menu. Remember, think light! However, don't ruin your vacation with all instant cafeteria food just to save on weight. You must find that balance.

 

After you have all agreed upon a meal schedule, spend some time coming up with a preliminary meal plan and distribute that amongst your group. Work with your group and make any necessary adjustments so that everyone is in agreement. After all, each one of you is probably going to be cooking a meal or two and you can't expect John the bachelor to whip up that Duck a L'Orange like you can. People are usually pretty easy when it comes to food when you're “roughing it” in the wilderness anyway. It's also important that you and your group are aware of any food allergies. You really don't want someone to have a serious allergic reaction at the outpost camp.

 

Once you have decided upon your groups eating schedule and menu, you need to make a list of all items required for every meals listed in your menu. Obviously you don't need to include the ingredients for meals you plan on making in advance and freezing. This list needs to be a detailed breakdown of EXACTLY what you need, down to the number of eggs and slices of bread. It's almost like running a restaurant and performing a forecast for purchasing your inventory. If you really want to be within the weight limits, you really need to get down to this level of detail.NoSupersized

 

From the main item list, I suggest that you separate it into four categories:

  • What items to bring from home (e.g., food/sundries from last trip, kitchen items, coolers);

  • What items to make and freeze ahead of time (e.g., chilli, stew, gumbo, bread, sauces);

  • What to buy locally prior to traveling (e.g., all your non-perishables you haven't already purchased);

  • What to buy the day before/of your flight (e.g., your perishables, bait and alcoholic beverages).

 

Remember to bring empty boxes, plastic totes and coolers to put the perishables in.

crockpotFood Packing Tips

 

Here are some tips to help reduce weight and increase your efficiency:

  • Buy items in plastic, paper and cardboard containers. NO GLASS.

  • Sure it's cheaper, but do you really need the mega jumbo family size? Not really. When purchasing items, condiments for example, buy what you need, not what is most cost effective unless you can transfer what you need into a different container.

  • Pre-cook and freeze as many of your meals as possible. This is one of the best things you can do because you can never bring an excess of ingredients (or forget something!) since the dish has already been prepared. Also, pre-cooking meals saves you time at the cabin since you don't have to do as much preparation or cleaning. Having the frozen food also helps keep other things in your cooler cold and reduces the need for ice or ice packs.

  • Pre-cook ingredients. Things like bacon, ground beef, chicken strips or sausages can be pre-cooked and reheated; or used as an ingredient to enhance many dishes like pizza, pasta and salad.

  • Similar to pre-cooking, it's a great idea to pre-measure everything. Why bring excess pancake mix or flour? Take out what you need for a meal and place it into Ziploc bags. Be sure to write the directions on the bag with a marker. It's easy to pre-mix the dry ingredients for things like breads, brownies or cakes into a single bag and just add eggs, oil, water etc. to make some fresh baked goods for everyone to enjoy.

  • Transfer jarred and canned goods into Ziploc bags as much as possible. This will save a lot on weight and eliminate some excess. However, there is a disadvantage to doing this. Once most food items are out of the jar or can they become perishable and need to be stored in the cooler or refrigerator. However, this should be manageable for at least the first three meals worth of items. You can do this for spaghetti sauce, baked beans, soup etc.

  • Transfer fresh eggs into a plastic container (yes, crack them first!) and freeze them. Now you can just thaw and pour out what you need! This is more for convenience, since you can purchase your eggs ahead of time and saves your eggs from being broken during travel.

  • Choose ingredients that can be used in multiple meals. One good example is a cooked spiral ham. Many groups will use this for dinner one night and then breakfasts and lunches for the rest of the week. I think that's a great idea!

  • Pack your perishables in a standard hard shelled cooler during your travels. Once you're at the air base transfer these items into a Styrofoam cooler and seal it with duct tape. Leave your ice packs behind if you used any. If your flight is short you can just use cardboard boxes or rubber totes instead [although, having a cooler around camp can still be useful].

  • When planning your menu think light! That basically translates into dry goods. Liquids are the bane of light weight travel. So, if you can get it in powdered form, you should consider it. Instant drink mixes, potatoes, noodle/rice dishes and powdered milk. Although, I can understand wanting to have fresh ingredients, like potatoes, over the dried stuff. Ultimately, you need to decide what's worth the extra weight.

  • Turn that cafeteria disaster into something even Martha Stewart would love! Well, that might be stretching it a bit, but enhancing some of those plain boring instant dishes can go a long way. For example, bring some frozen vegetables, nuts, pre-cooked bacon or dried fruit and add it into those instant noodle and rice side dishes. Toss in some dried Craisins, nuts or chocolate chips into the pancakes. Little things like that can make a world of difference.

  • Fruit. Do you really need it? It weighs a lot and much of it probably won't be eaten. It's not like you're going to get scurvy being fruit-free for a week. Bring dried fruit or perhaps some fruit cups if you really want fruit. However, a fresh melon or pineapple can make a nice treat if you have the allowance.

  • Choose flat breads or have flattened bread! Good alternatives to your standard bread loaf are pitas, naans, tortillas and other non-risen breads. These are compact and last a long time. However, freezing your loaves of bread can help them from being squashed as long as they stay somewhat frozen for the length of your trip.

 

Menu Ideas

 

Breakfasteggyinthebasket

 

Most often this is just a quick meal, but some days you want to sit down and have a nice hearty spread. Probably the easiest meal to cook and master as well. So, give responsibility of this meal to those in the group that have two left thumbs and think Martha Stewart is a crime lord.

Some suggestions for a sit down meal:

  • coffee, tea, juice, hot chocolate (tip: make instant hot chocolate with coffee for a nice mocha!) - although fresh brewed coffee is best, if you want something instant try the Starbucks micro-grind instant coffee. It's really good! If you like a sweeter coffee, there is the instant coffee packets that contain sugar, coffee and creamer that are not bad. Personally, I only like the brand Maxim that I used to buy from the Korean supermarket;

  • eggs – scrambled, fried, soft/hard boiled, poached ;

  • bacon/ham/sausage/Spam/Walleye;

  • toasted bread/bagel/English muffin/pita wrap/tortilla/croissant/crumpet/biscuit;

  • hash browns – potatoes (fresh, canned or leftovers), frozen pre-made [can pre-make fresh and freeze];

  • potato pancakes – pre-made or can pre-make and freeze or use leftovers;

  • omelet – eggs, cheese, vegetables (frozen), ham/bacon/sausage/Walleye;

  • pancakes – “just add water” pancake mix (pre-measured) , syrup/jam/jelly/butter/margarine;

  • waffles – use the frozen kind, syrup/jam/jelly/butter/margarine;

  • French toast – eggs, milk/cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, powdered sugar, bread (can pre-measure all dry ingredients or pre-make the egg dip and freeze);

  • eggy in the basket – eggs, bread , butter/margarine;

  • crust-less quiche – eggs, cream, cheese, broccoli/zucchini (frozen), ham/bacon [can pre-make and freeze (with crust too)];

  • eggs Benedict – English muffins/bread, ham/bacon/sausage/Walleye, poached eggs, butter, Hollandaise sauce (egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce or cayenne pepper, butter) [can pre-make and freeze];

  • biscuits with gravy – Bisquick biscuits (you can make these at camp or pre-make and freeze), milk, instant gravy;

  • egg sandwich – fried/poached egg, ham/bacon/sausage, cheese, bread/bagel/English muffin/pita wrap/tortilla/croissant, lettuce, tomato, butter/margarine;

  • BLT – bread, lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayonnaise.

muffins Quick sit down meals:

  • cold cereal with milk;

  • hot instant oatmeal with sugar, syrup or jam;

  • yogurt;

  • fruit cup.

 Out the door, there is fishing to be done:

  • toasted bread, biscuit, English muffin, pita, tortilla, croissant or bagel with butter/jam/jelly/peanut butter/cream cheese/Nutella;

  • breakfast bar, granola bar;

  • Pop-tart or other toaster pastry ;

  • muffin – purchased or pre-made and frozen;

  • doughnut;

  • hard boiled egg – pre-made ahead of time.

 

Lunchwalleyesandwich

 

 Some groups come in from fishing and take a break in the afternoon. Sometimes it's just too hot to be out on the water.  The meals can be small and quick or the big meal of the day.  Others stay out on the water and bring a packed lunch or a small snack. Maybe it's a bit of both.

 

 Here are some suggestions for a smaller afternoon meal (see Dinner ideas for larger meals):

  • the king of lunch – the luncheon meat sandwich – bread/pita/tortilla/bagel with luncheon meat (ham, salami, turkey, chicken, Spam, egg salad), mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles; canned tuna and salmon are also great choices since they won't spoil or need refrigeration;

  • the Walleye sandwich – leftover walleye on a bread/pita/tortilla with some tartar sauce (mayonnaise + relish or premade), lettuce;

  • leftovers – heat up some left over dinner;

  • soup – canned/boxed or pre-made and frozen, crackers;

  • chilli – canned/boxed or pre-made and frozen, toasted bread, cheese;

  • instant noodles/rice – pre-packaged instant noodles like Sidekicks or Kraft Dinner (need milk, butter/margarine);

  • pasta – canned/boxed or pre-made and frozen;

  • hotdogs /sausages – grill up some hotdogs or sausages, hotdog/sausage buns, mustard, relish, ketchup, onions;

  • beans and wieners – a childhood favorite that tastes good and easy to make;

  • hamburgers – grill up some pre-made and frozen burgers, hamburger buns, mustard, relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles.


 

Snacks

We all need some snack foods.  There are plenty of options here of course, so bring your favorites.  Things like nuts, jerky, smokies and trail mix are great snacks.  They also make a great substitute for lunch if you want a quick nutritious meal.     If you like chips, consider the ones packed in the can like Pringles.

  • cheese, sliced meats and crackers;
  • nuts, trail mix;
  • sausages, smokies, pepperettes, beef jerky;
  • chips, pretzels, popcorn;
  • small candy bars;
  • granola bars;
  • dried fruit.

 

Dinner ham3

It's more than likely you will be eating plenty of fish for dinner during your week at the camp. However, you may not want battered fried fish each time [although, it's pretty darn good!] so I compiled a list of different ways to prepare fish. There are also plenty of people that don't want fish every day as well, so I wrote down some alternative meal suggestions that are perfect for the outpost camp.

One good tip for making the cooking and cleaning a bit easier is to make large batches of side dishes at the start of the week. Within the first day or two you can make a big batch of pasta salad, rice or baked beans to eat with your meals for the rest of the week. It's also a good idea to post the menu plan up for everyone to see. That way, everyone knows what the meals are for the day and hopefully prevent someone snacking on something that was meant for dinner!

 

Main Dishes (no fish):

  • grilled meat – plenty of options for grilled meat like chicken, ribs and pork chops. Marinade the meat and freeze it in the marinade prior to your trip;

  • steak – on the grill or cast-iron skillet;

  • hotdogs/hamburgers – grilled hotdogs or hamburgers [pre-made and frozen] on a hotdog/hamburger bun with condiments of your choice; fried burgers and hotdogs works well too;

  • sausage – grilled and served on a bun [or not] with sauerkraut and your condiments of choice;

  • ham – spiral ham slices [pre-cooked];

  • spaghetti – pick your noodle of choice with some meat sauce [pre-made and frozen];

  • chilli – pre-made and frozen, don't forget the hot sauce to spice it up;

  • sloppy joes – hamburger buns/bread topped with seasoned beef [pre-made and frozen];

  • tacos/fajitas – tortillas or hard shelled tacos with ground beef/steak slices/chicken slices [pre-made and frozen] and your favorite toppings (sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa);

  • baked pasta – a frozen lasagna or tortellini dish;

  • pizza – pre-made dough (just add water), pizza sauce, sausage, cheese, mushrooms – bake in cast iron skillet with foil;

  • pork tenderloin wrapped in thick peppered bacon – there are plenty of other pork tenderloin recipes out there as well;

  • stews or “one pot meals” - toss some browned meat (cubed or roast beef or pork; whole or part chicken) or cooked ham in a pot with some vegetables (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions) and a can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, hot sauce. [can be pre-made and frozen];

  • jambalaya – chicken and sausage/ham/bacon, rice [pre-made and frozen];

  • gumbo - chicken and sausage/ham/bacon, rice [pre-made and frozen];

  • chicken with rice – cook chicken in a skillet, add to baking dish with canned cream of mushroom soup and uncooked rice and bake;

  • chicken wings – fried or baked with your favorite sauce or breading;

  • fried shrimp – bring along some frozen cooked shrimp and simply fry them up in some garlic and butter.

 bread

Side Dishes:

  • simple bread – pre-mix the ingredients to make a simple no knead fresh bread; make and freeze the dough ahead of time or you can make it at camp (pre-mix the dried ingredients at home first);

  • quick breads – Pillsbury, Bisquick, garlic bread with cheese;

  • baked beans - canned or make your own and freeze it;

  • potatoes – canned potatoes can be fried up, fresh can be prepared many ways: mashed, baked, fried, french fries, sliced and BBQ'd with onions wrapped in foil;

  • french fries – frozen package;

  • pasta/rice/couscous/quinoa – instant packets of grain and pasta side dishes – Sidekicks,Uncle Bens etc.;

  • vegetables – canned or frozen corn, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, mixed;

  • salad + dressing – pre-made bagged Garden , Caesar and baby spinach salads are great.

 

 

 

 

Fish Dishes:

  • pan or deep fried with breading – there are many breading options, including several good pre-packaged ones. You can try things like flour, corn starch, instant potatoes, Italian bread crumbs, Panko, crushed crackers, pancake batter, crushed cereal, corn meal, Bisquick or a combination thereof. You can also pan fry fillets without breading;tacos

  • baked – can bread and bake fillets or bake a whole fish using various seasonings like lemon pepper or add a plum glaze or orange glaze;

  • grilled – you can grill a whole fish, similar to baking it, or you can put foil on the grill and cook fillets that way; or you can make blackened or charred fillets;

  • taco's – use grilled or fried fish in place of beef or chicken in your soft taco's;

  • pasta – you can use fried, baked or boiled fish in your Alfredo or tomato based pasta dishes;

  • jambalaya – add fish to your chicken and sausage/ham/bacon;

  • gumbo – add fish to your chicken and sausage/ham/bacon;

  • chowder – make a nice fish chowder with some fresh pike or walleye, bacon and potatoes;

  • kabobs – add fish chunks to skewers with onions, peppers and cherry tomatoes and grill;

  • bacon wrapped – wrap fish chunks in bacon and either put on skewers to grill or coat with breading and fry.

 I am sure there are plenty of other recipes you can come up with. It can be as simple as substituting or adding fish to your favorite dishes.

 

 Dessert

 

I am sure, for the most part, you can skip on dessert. You don't really need the excess weight (pun intended!). However, having a dessert one or two nights can be a real treat. You can easily pre-mix the ingredients to make brownies, muffins or cakes and just add the necessary wet ingredients like oil and eggs at the camp. There are plenty of store bought prepared options as well. A pineapple (tip: grilling it is amazing!) or melon can go a long way was well. Pudding and fruit cups are another option.

 

beerBeverages

The most important necessity is water. Of course, where you're going you're surrounded by it. Instead of bringing in bottled water consider bringing a micro-pump filter purifier or simply boil and filter the tap water with cloth or coffee filters. If you really must bring in bottle water it's best to arrange with your outfitter to pre-fly it in so it doesn't count toward your weight allowance. You can also freeze some bottled water for use in your coolers to keep the perishables cold and drink them later.

As mentioned, powdered drink mixes are great if you want something other than water to drink. If you want fresh juice consider the frozen concentrate. They make great ice packs for the trip as well. Bring some tea bags and make iced tea. There's nothing like a refreshing glass of real iced tea (tip: make sure there is a container at camp). Otherwise, buy all beverages in plastic or cardboard containers. Avoid all glass containers.

Now, the biggest culprit. Beer. It weighs a lot and is not a necessity [Did I just write that!?!?]. However, what's a fishing trip without it? If you want beer it's best to just order it from your outfitter and have it pre-flown in. At 20lbs per case of 24 cans that will eat into your weight allowance really quickly. The same thing can be said for cases of soda. So, you either pay the overage charges or have it flown in in advance. Definitely avoid bottles, which are likely not permitted by your outfitter anyway.

I know that beer is good and vodka is best, but rye grows hair on your chest! It's worth considering taking a bottle of hard liquor instead of beer. This is especially important if you don't/can't get the beer flown in prior to your arrival. Of course, if you mix it with soda it won't help much with your weight load. Consider transferring the hard liquor into a plastic soda bottle and sticking it into the freezer prior to departure. It will not freeze but is still cold enough to be used in your cooler.

 

Kitchen Items

Most outpost camps will come with all the necessities for cooking, cleaning and eating. However, being included doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work properly; or things just might be missing. Some examples include can and wine openers, a metal spatula, tongs and lighter for the BBQ, pot holders/oven mitts, drink pitchers, a sharp kitchen knife and cutting board. Obviously, you only need one of these items per cabin. It's difficult to know what to expect from any given outfitter unless you have prior experience with them or have talked to someone who has been recently.  Click HERE to Download a PDF copy of the list.

I have compiled a list of suggested items to help get you started:

  • aluminum foil – 12”(kitchen) and 18”(BBQ)

  • can opener

  • cheese cloth - to filter deep fryer oil

  • coffee filters

  • corkscrew/wine opener

  • cutting board – thin plastic type

  • dish soap

  • dish cloth and towels

  • garbage bags - heavy duty/contractor

  • ice cube trays

  • knife – sharp chef

  • knife sharpener/sharpening stone

  • oven mitt or pot holders

  • paper plates

  • paper towels

  • peeler

  • plastic cups – 16oz., 25oz.

  • plastic utensils – spoons and forks

  • plastic wrap

  • scouring pads

  • small freezer packs – for boat cooler

  • spatula, tongs, basting brush for BBQ

  • Ziploc freezer bags – for taking fish home

 Bathroom Items

This is pretty straightforward. There isn't much you'll need for the bathroom besides your personal toiletries, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, cloths and towels. I prefer liquid soap for hand washing and bar soap for the shower. The hand soap should be a group item and the bar soap and shampoo, well, that's up to your group. Personally, I don't mind sharing bar soap/shampoo in the shower, but some might not like it. Some outfitters also provide towels, so that's an important item to check on. Some air freshener might be a good idea too, especially with an outhouse. Don't forget your can of Raid either, as you might want to spray down that outhouse so nobody gets a visit to their nether regions by an ugly spider (Have you seen those dock spiders! Yikes!).

  • air freshener (Lysol)

  • bar soap – for shower

  • bug spray (Raid) – for outhouse/cabin

  • liquid hand soap – for sink

  • hand sanitizer– for outhouse

  • shampoo

  • toilet paper

  • wet wipes/baby wipes

DFH

Shared Items for the Cabin

There are plenty of other things that you may need or should have on hand. These are just basic necessities in order for your group to have a successful trip. Things like a first aid kit or a hardware kit for something that needs a quick fix. These are group items, so one per cabin. You're not going to need everything in these lists either. Some are nice to have (e.g., small fan), others are necessities (e.g., first aid kit) and some depend on the outpost cabin (e.g., ax and saw).

 

Simple Hardware Kit:

  • assorted screws/nails - small container
  • adjustable crescent wrench
  • duct tape
  • elastic bands
  • electrical tape
  • five minute epoxy
  • fuel stabilizer/cleaner such as Sea Foam, Stabil Marine or Yamaha Ring Free
  • hose clamps
  • multitool/Leatherman tool
  • plastic wire ties
  • pliers
  • sand paper to clean spark plugs
  • screwdrivers
  • spark plug wrench
  • super glue – good for medical kit too
  • wire

 

 Medical Kit:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol) – headaches, fevers
  • acid reflux meds (Pepcid AC)
  • aloe vera gel – good for burns, rashes, insect bites
  • anti-diarrhea l meds (Imodium)
  • anti-histamine (Benadryl) – allergic reactions
  • anti-nausea meds (Gravol)
  • antibiotic ointment (Ozonol, Polysporin)
  • chewable aspirin – emergency heart trouble
  • cold/flu meds (Nyquil)
  • cold/hot pack – muscle pain, back pain
  • first aid kit – bandages, alcohol pads, gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, needle, safety pins, scalpel
  • heart burn meds (Tums/Rolaids)
  • hook removal kit – boot laces or commercial kit
  • hydro-cortisone cream – rashes, insect bites
  • ibuprofen (Advil) – headaches, pain
  • insect bite relief (Afterbite, Calamine)
  • laxatives (Ex-Lax)
  • rubbing alcohol/hydrogen peroxide
  • upset stomach meds (Pepto Bismol)

 General:

  • alarm clock

  • ax/hatchet– only if you have to cut your own firewood

  • batteries [+ charger] – extra for flashlight, lantern, depth finder, camera, radios

  • bleach – can be used to purify water for drinking

  • bug killer – a can of Raid to spray the cabin/outhouse each night

  • coffee maker – camping or stove top

  • cooler – you probably brought this in with you, but good for backup cold storage

  • deck of cards

  • dice/cribbage/backgammon

  • electric fan

  • emergency candles

  • extension cord – can move a noisy generator back into bush

  • fillet knives – sharpen before you pack them

  • flashlights

  • heavy duty work gloves – for fire, garbage

  • insect repellent – HIGH DEET, the others don't work well

  • hlighter, BBQ lighter

  • light bulbs - 60W

  • mini butane or battery operated lantern

  • mosquito coils

  • mouse traps

  • multi-tool

  • night light for the bathroom

  • old magazines – to read in the outhouse, you can leave these behind for the next guests

  • power bar

  • rod tip repair kit

  • rope – good for many things, such as a clothes line

  • saw – small hand saw, only if you have to cut your own firewood

  • sewing kit

  • solar charger or inverter for batteries

  • solar shower/camp shower

  • stick matches – wooden strike-anywhere matches

  • sunscreen – you want SPF 30+, this isn't the time to work on your tan

  • water filter – a good camping filter to purify your water, or a Brita to filter boiled water

  • wet wipes (baby wipes) – great in the boat

 

Things for Inside the Boat  

jawspreader

There are many things that should go into your boat besides your fishing rod and tackle. First and foremost is a personal flotation device (PFD) for each person. Next is a boat safety kit. The safety kit includes 50ft. of floating rope, a signaling device like a whistle, a watertight flashlight and a water bailer, usually the bucket the kit is in. You can purchase these commercially as a kit or just assemble your own. You also need a means of propelling yourself (i.e., a paddle) or an anchor. These are all legal requirements for operating a boat in Ontario.

You will also want some other things like a small cooler for your lunch and drinks, a landing net, some towels/rags to dry the boat in the morning and a navigation aid like a compass+map or a GPS. Other things that are listed elsewhere that you should bring with you into the boat are your camera, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, lunch/drinks, boat bag with rain gear and a roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc baggy or wet wipes.

 

Suggested items for each boat:

  • bailer+sponge – a thick sponge is amazing for clearing water out of the bottom each morning

  • anchor – assemble one using a nylon net bag filled with round rocks tied to a rope

  • bait box for nightcrawlers

  • basic toolkit – multitool, duct tape, electical tape, screws, plastic ties

  • bilge pump - battery operated makes removing water fast and easy

  • boat safety kit – this is a legal requirement – 50ft buoyant rope, signaling device (pea-less whistle), watertight flashlight, bailer or manual bilge pump

  • compass + map – some of these lakes are like a maze and you don't want to get lost

  • depth finder

  • drift sock

  • matches/lighter and fire starter – for emergency use: cotton balls + Vaseline or wax, dryer lint, emergency candle wrapped in wax paper, melted wax on cardboard or paper strips; pencil sharpener to shave kindling, magnesium block

  • first aid kit with Mylar blanket and water purfication tablets (or a filter)

  • fishing rags/towels – nice to dry off your seat each morning

  • flashlight - LED preferably

  • fly swatter – take out those damn ankle biters!

  • GPS – great for knowing where you are, were and want to go

  • hat(s), sunglasses, suncsreen

  • hook removal kit – boot lace or commercial kit

  • landing net

  • leech tamer or other container for leeches

  • marker buoys – excellent to mark that spot for when you drift fishing

  • minnow bucket

  • personal flotation device (PFD) for each person – boat cushions no longer qualify

  • radios/walkies – great to keep in contact with your group mates

  • rod holders

  • small boat cooler (collapsible cloth ones are just fine) – for your lunch and beverages

  • stringer – outpost boats don't usually have live wells

  • syphon hose - for transferring gas to the tank

  • tarp - for emergency use if you need to spend the night away from the cabin

  • toilet paper and/or wet wipes

  • Thermacell or insect repellent (98%+ DEET) – great for keeping those pesky mosquitoes at bay; can use in the boat and outside of cabin

  • weather stripping – hang up your lures for convenience

     

 Fishing toolbox:

  • braid scissors (a sharp knife works well too)

  • extra spool of line

  • fishing gloves

  • hook sharpener

  • jaw spreader

  • leader material

  • line clippers

  • long needle nose pliers

  • measuring tape/scale

  • multi-tool

  • pliers – make sure to have a backup!

  • small bolt cutter/side cutter

 PackingTable3

Clothing

Clothing is another area that you can really cut back on. Depending on what time of year you are going, the weather can shift drastically during a single day. It can be 35F one day and 90F the next. Think about what you REALLY need. Also, think in terms of layering and multi-use. Why bring two bulky sweaters when you can wear a couple layers instead. You can't wear those sweaters when it's hot, but you certainly can wear one of the layers. It's also a good idea to check the long term forecast a day or so before you leave so you can make any necessary changes. In general, if you're coming in May and early June or September/October, be prepared for some cold weather (35F-40F); in late June, July and August it can be hot (80F-90F), but some days/nights may be cooler (50F-60F) (see Table 3).

Here are a few tips for selecting and packing clothes for your trip:rainsuits2

  • Get an idea of the expected weather during your trip and bring what you need. You won't likely need a heavy winter parka in July, nor shorts in May.

  • To save on some weight, leave the clothes you plan to travel back home in inside of your vehicle. When you return to the air base you can change into your fresh travel clothes.

  • Zip-off pants! These come highly recommended by many outpost fishermen. Basically, these are pants that have removable legs to change into shorts. Great concept that will save you some space and weight by eliminating the need for shorts.

  • Bring a spare pair of sunglasses and a hat. These things often get lost or broken. Spending the day out in the sun without a hat or eye wear can be rather unpleasant.

  • Get the best rain gear you can afford. A good rain suit affords you with comfort in the worst rainy conditions so you can keep on fishing! Ideally, you will want a suit that is breathable and waterproof. Sure, you can get away with an inexpensive rubberized suit, but if it's a warm day you will be sweating profusely and end up soaking wet anyway. Suits made from Gore-Tex are ideal and there are plenty of excellent choices. However, Gore-Tex suits can be very expensive. Luckily there are some good alternative, such as Frogg Toggs, Cabelas Dry Plus and Bass Pro Shops Bone Dry;

  • You can always give your clothes a quick wash in the lake or sink and dry them on a line outside.

 

 

 

 

Suggested clothing to bring for a 7 day trip:

 

June(late)/July/August/September(early)

  • bandana – to protect your neck from the sun

  • camp shoes – 1 pair

  • hat/cap – 2

  • jacket – only if you can't use your rain suit jacket with a sweatshirt

  • long sleeve flannel/denim shirt – 1

  • pants/jeans -2 pairs

  • rain suit

  • shorts – 2 pairs

  • socks – 6-7 pairs

  • sunglasses – 2 pairs, polarized

  • sweat pants/pajama bottoms – 1 pair, nice to change into after a shower

  • sweat shirt/fleece – 1

  • t-shirts – 3-6

  • tearaway pants - 1 or 2, if you bring these you don't need to bring extra shorts

  • thin gloves – nice to have on those cold, windy mornings

  • towel (bath)

  • underwear – 6 pairs

  • waterproof boots/shoes - 1

 Additional items for May/June(early)/September(late)/October

  • long/thermal underwear – make sure they are not cotton, it doesn't wick away the moisture

  • neck warmer/gator – fleece

  • warm gloves – 2 pairs

  • warm insulated jacket - 1

  • wool hat

  • wool socks – 2 pairs, they can go over top of your regular socks

 

 Personal Effectsleathermantool


The most important items you need are your money, credit cards and travel documents. You will need your passport and/or driver's license, an Ontario outdoors card AND fishing license and a boaters card if you have one (not required if complete a boat rental safety checklist). Next would be your prescription medications. So, don't forget to get those refilled in advance so you have enough for your trip. Just like any flight, it would be wise to keep a small carry-on bag with you that contains these items. You really can't afford to have these things left in the car or on the air service dock.

 

Here are some suggested items that every person in the group should be responsible for:

  • batteries – spares for clocks, radios, GPS, camera, fish finder, flashlights, lantern

  • boat bag – waterproof bag for your sweatshirt, camera, toilet paper

  • book

  • camera + memory cards

  • cell phone + charger – I am sure you won't get reception, but good for a clock and perhaps Navionics maps

  • day pack for portages – small pack for when you hike to a portage lake, put your small tackle box in

  • ear plugs – what? I snore? I don't think so....

  • eyeglasses

  • head lamp – LED models are great

  • insect repellent – high DEET content (this can be listed as a group item as well)

  • insulated coffee mug or thermos

  • money/credit cards

  • mosquito hood/netting – this is a life saver some days

  • MP3 player

  • outdoors card + licence – legally required

  • passport/identification – legally required

  • pen and notepad – good for a fishing log, or maybe start your memoirs

  • personal flotation device – everyone must have one, not all outfitters provide them

  • pillow and/or pillow case – some outfitters have pillows, even if they do you might want your own pillow case (blech!)

  • prescription meds – DO NOT forget these!

  • reading glasses

  • sheets

  • sleeping bag

  • small flash light

  • small tackle box for portage lakes – small container for a couple jig heads and a lure or two

  • spare car keys

  • sunglasses – 2 pairs of polarized

  • sunscreen – SPF 30+ (this can be listed as a group item as well)

  • towel

  • watch

  • water bottle (refillable)

Toiletries:

  • bar soap – 2 travel size

  • chapstick/lip balm – with SPF

  • contact solution

  • contacts

  • dental floss – tooth decay doesn’t take a vacation!

  • deodorant

  • hair brush

  • hand lotion – you will be surprised how bad your hands can get

  • razor – if you must

  • shampoo – 2 travel size

  • shaving cream

  • toothbrush

  • toothpaste

Packing It All Up loadedcart2

The first thing to do is contact the outfitter and/or air service provider to find out what size of coolers, bags and crates they prefer you to use. They all use a variety of aircraft, so they may have a preference. Most do not like the large body sized duffel bags or huge 98 quart coolers. They just don't pack well onto the plane nor are they easy to load/unload. A 48 quart cooler (24” across) and bags no larger than 36” and 50lbs is recommended. It's better to use several smaller containers like milk crates, boxes and Rubbermaid totes; and keep them at 10lbs or less. Keep in mind it's best to keep the container types uniform if possible. For example, don't use 2 milk crates, 2 boxes and 3 totes. Try to use 8 milk crates, 8 boxes or 6 totes. The air service will appreciate it since they are much easier to load and stack up. Also, some air services do not like plastic tote boxes at all. The rigidity makes it hard to squeeze everything in, so they prefer cardboard boxes and duffel bags.

When you are packing up your personal and group gear, pack with a priority in mind. Make sure your critical personal items, like medication and documentation, are going on board with you. It's very important to clearly label your boxes with your groups name. Also, for whatever reason, if you have to leave something behind completely or have something brought in during the mid-week check, you need know in advance what bags/boxes you can live without. You should label these “extra” containers as such as well. It's also very useful to pre-weigh all your gear so you can get a good estimate of your total weight. Everyone in the group needs to pre-weigh their gear as well so they don't go over their personal allotment. If you know you're going to be overweight you should contact your outfitter so they can arrange transport well ahead of time.

When your packing up your rod setups, make sure to remove your reels and all hooks from your rods, especially if you're just wrapping them together. Don't pack rods in homemade PVC rod cases if you can help it. They weigh a lot. Use a lighter weight case and pack as many of your groups rods into as few rod cases as possible. Some air services also do not like those large rod cases that are 8+ feet long. If possible, it's best to use a few smaller cases instead. If you don't have a rod case, you can stack your rods together in an alternating fashion to make sure you have an even number of rod butts on both ends. Extend the butts past the tips so they are not exposed and prone to damage. Fasten the bundle together with rubber bands or wrap each end with cardboard or newspaper and wrap that in duct tape (don't duct tape the rod directly, removing the tape will likely result in damage).

 

rodswaitingFishing Rod and Reel Setups

 

I would recommend bringing at least 2 or 3 good rod setups. A backup setup for the whole group is always a good idea as well. Two piece rods are more manageable, but shorter one piece rods should be OK too. You can easily get away with spinning rod setups for the majority of outpost fishing in Ontario. Ultimately it's going to come down to the types of fishing you're doing and what your target species are.

A spinning reel, with ~125 to 200 yards of 8lb test line capacity, on a 6' to 7' medium light or medium power rod. Spool this up with 6-8lb test mono-filament or 8-10lb braided fishing line with a 6-8lb test fluorocarbon leader. This outfit will work great fishing for Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Brook Trout and Perch/Panfish. It should also be adequate for most Northern Pike and Lake Trout fishing as well, unless there are many trophy class fish. However, you could easily put together a good spinning combo for Pike fishing. Just change to a 7' medium-heavy power rod and spool it with 20-30lb test braided line. You can even use that setup for trolling with 3-way setups, bottom bouncers or flat lining crankbaits.

For Northern Pike and Musky, a round baitcaster reel on a 6.5' to 7.5' medium heavy power rod is a good choice for these larger sportfish. Spool this up with 65-100lb test braided superline. However, unless you plan on targeting trophy Northern Pike or Musky, you really only need a spinning rod setup. If you are targeting Musky I imagine you already know what's required to tackle this sportsfish. If not, I suggest doing some additional research to educate yourself on how to properly gear up and safely handle these sportsfish.

If you fly fish, many outposts have fishing opportunities for Brook Trout and Whitefish. Fly fishing for Northern Pike can be a lot of fun as well. If you don't have a fly rod setup, you can still fish with flies using a spinning rod setup. All you need is a spin bubble (basically a bobber you fill with water) and some flies. I target Northern Pike with some easy to make bunny strip flies using this type of setup. I highly recommend giving it a try.

 

Fish FindersPackingTable4

Depth finders, fish finders or sonars are a great angling tool and these days are almost a necessity for most anglers. There are plenty of portable units on the market that would be excellent for outpost fishing. Only the most basic model is required. You really don't need anything with a color screen, a GPS or any other high end features. These will drain your batteries fast. All you need is a unit that displays the water temperature, depth and bottom structure. Also, it's important to keep that backlight OFF as that will double the power draw of the unit.

Unfortunately, being portable means needing batteries; and batteries are heavy. Portable units most commonly use either AA- or D-cell alkaline or 12V sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries. If you look at the capacity of alkaline batteries you will find that a typical good quality D-Cell is ~12 Amp hours, an AA-cell is ~2 Amp hours and a 12V SLA battery is 7 to 9 Amp hours. Most basic sonar units will draw from ~100 to 200 milliAmps, so you can estimate a series of 8 D-Cells will last about 70 hours, a series of 8 AA-Cells about 12 hours and a 12V 7Ah SLA battery about 40 hours on a single charge. It's also possible to jerry rig up two 6V alkaline lamp batteries (the F-cell type) in series as well, giving you ~15 Amp hours and 88 hours of operating time. 

Of course, the most important issue here is the weight. If we can expect to fish 12 hours per day over a total of 6 days, typically only one set of D-cells or 6V lantern batteries would be required, or 2 to 6 sets of AA batteries. However, looking at total weight of the batteries you would require for 6 days (8 D-cells, 2 6V lantern and 40-48 AA-cells) they are all very similar (~2.5 lbs). Since the 12V SLA is rechargeable you obviously can use that the entire time assuming you have a means to recharge it (after about 3 days of use). However, the 12 SLA battery (with charger) weighs ~6 lbs, at least twice as much as the other options.  Table 4 lists some popular portable sonar models and some of their specifications.

 PackingTable5

If you are planning to purchase a new unit, look for one that has a current draw between 50 to 100 milliAmps. If you already own one, look up the current draw to get an estimate of how long a set of batteries should last. I would recommend a portable unit that runs on alkaline AA-cell batteries. The best situation is a unit that draws 50 mA (or less) and uses 8 AA batteries. In this case you only need 16 AA batteries for the full 6 days of fishing! There are even sonar units that only draw from 28 to 35 mA. If you find that your sonar unit is drawing 200 mA or more, you can either rig up some lantern batteries (units drawing up to 220mA), use NiMH rechargeable batteries or stick with your 12V SLA battery.PackingTable6

 

BatteryPacksKeep in mind that you can easily put together your own alkaline battery pack if your finder didn't come with one. All you need is a commercially available plastic battery holder for 8 D-cell or 8 AA-cell alkaline batteries (make sure it's in series, not parallel) and a way to wire that up to your sonar; or simply use two 6V lantern batteries as mentioned. Each D- and AA-cell is 1.5 Volts, so 8 of them, or two 6V lantern batteries, in series is 12 Volts. If you do decide to use the lantern batteries, you may as well find the ones that contain 4 F-cells and not 4 D-cells. Also, if you do decide to bring along a lead acid battery, make sure it's the non-spillable AGM (absorbed glass mat) or gel cell type due to aviation regulations. If it's the battery that came with the unit it's most likely a 12V 7Ah AGM SLA.  See Table 5 for the estimated power capacity of various 12V battery packs.

You could also consider rechargeable NiMH batteries instead of alkalines, but they have a lower power capacity and weigh more relative to a standard alkaline battery. Also, the voltage of rechargeable batteries is 1.2V compared to the 1.5V of alkaline batteries. So, 8 rechargeable batteries in series is only 9.6V compared to 12V from 8 alkalines. This may or may not cause problems with your sonar since most run between 10-20V. If you do choose to use rechargeable batteries, definitely test them in your unit first. If the sonar has a problem you might be able to simply use a battery holder for 10 batteries so the battery pack reaches 12V.  Table 6 lists the recommended battery pack(s) based on the current draw of the sonar unit.

If there are no issues, using rechargeables can make more sense depending on your particular sonar (current draws of 200 mA or more) and if you have multiple devices using batteries. A typical set of 8 AA- or 8 D-cell NiMH batteries, including the charger, weigh ~2 lbs and 4 lbs, respectively. Of course, you need to be able to recharge them. A solar charger or an inverter to draw from the camp generator might be required. You need to ask your outfitter what your options are. Also, if you are considering the higher capacity disposable lithium batteries, it's not worth the extra expense. The benefits from these batteries are in higher current draw systems (>250 mA) and at relatively low operating temperatures. Conditions you aren't likely to be exposed to.  Keep in mind, some outfitters have electric start boat motors which use a 12V battery.    If so, you can just set up some wire with alligator clips and connect your sonar directly to the battery.

 

wormboxesLive Bait

Many anglers like to use live bait, especially minnows. Unfortunately live minnows in water weigh a lot and are far too impractical to include in your weight allowance. Although, some outfitters offer live minnows and either fly them in for you for free or for a nominal fee. If not, consider frozen or salted minnows as they can be very effective alternatives. Some people also report that the artificial Gulp minnow products also work well.

Leeches and Nightcrawlers. Typically if you fish with leeches and/or nightcrawlers you'll pick up 1-2 pounds of leeches (~200 leeches per pound) or a flat or half a flat of nightcrawlers (~500 worms per flat) for a group of 4 to 6 anglers. These are already packed well enough for the flight. Check with your outfitter to see if they provide or can offer you leeches or nightcrawlers.

 

If you do bring along nightcrawlers, make sure to bring a habitat or something similar for your nightcrawlers to reside in for the week. It's probably wise to use a commercial bedding like Magic Buss or Frabill Super-Gro. Keep the worms in the refrigerator and only take out what you need to use for the day. Make sure to check for and remove any dead ones from your main habitat each day as well.   Leeches also need to be kept in the refrigerator or a cooler. Make sure to change their water daily or they will not survive the week.  It's also worth mentioning that some people have reported successfully keeping worms in a cooler, or similar container, in the shade under the cabin covered with a wet towel or blanket.   I imagine as long as your location is consistently cool it should probably work fine.

If you run out of bait or need that extra “zing”, you can use the inedible remains of your filleted fish as bait. You can use eyes or cut up a fish gullet or belly meat into small strips as an effective bait. Make sure to check the local regulations first though.

 

Fishing Tackle

 

When it comes to fishing tackle we probably all own way more than we ever need. After all, shopping for fishing gear can be almost as fun as fishing! Unfortunately, most of it is unnecessary, especially at an outpost camp. You really only need some very basic gear and not much of it. What you bring will obviously depend on what species you plan to target and what techniques you like to use.

 

Walleye walleyelures-article

One of the most popular techniques for inland lake Walleye iis vertical jigging. Tie on a lead-head jig with some live bait or plastics, bounce that up and down off the bottom and you will catch fish. All types of fish. This is a standard go-to technique for walleye fishing on inland lakes. It's simple and you don't need to bring much besides some jig heads in various sizes and live or artificial baits. Minnows, leeches and nightcrawlers all work.  There are endless plastic options as well, the most popular being grubs.  Artificials like Gulp Minnows, paddletail minnows, finesse worms and various creature baits also work.  You can jig while anchored at your hotspot or drift along until you find a hot spot and anchor or keep drifting past it. A marker buoy is great for this.   I've also caught plenty of fish casting a jig out along the shoreline or weed beds and slowly reeling/jigging it back in.

Many of the other popular Walleye techniques are just as “tackle simple”, since they are primarily live bait rigs. The Lindy rig is a great drifting presentation that requires a hook, foam float and a slip or walking sinker.  Alternatively, you can use a floating jig head or inject a nightcrawler with some air.  You can also troll crawler harnesses or Slow Death rigs. A big fat juice nightcrawler or leech on a spinner harness trolled behind a bottom bouncer or pencil weight is a deadly Walleye presentation. Single-hook live bait spinners, like the Victor Spoon, also work great with minnows. Using a slip bobber can be productive as well. Especially if you're fishing the top of some weed beds or rock piles.

Maybe you'll get tired of live bait rig fishing or you're having trouble locating fish. Time to cast or troll your favorite crank bait, spinner or spoon. You won't need more than 5 or 6 of them.The Rapala Shad Rap SR5 and SR7 are great all around options, as is the Storm Hot'N'Tot.  You can also work the shorelines in the evenings when the fish come up to feed with stick or jerk baits, like the Rapala X-Rap.  Sometimes the fish are deep and spread out; or you're simply after that big trophy. Trolling some deep diving cranks or using a three-way setup or bottom bouncer with a crawler harness or crank bait is just the ticket.  Remember, you aren't trolling for schools of Walleye suspended at 40' in Lake Erie, so a couple deep diving crankbaits will do; or some weights/bottom bouncer and a stick bait/spoon.  

 

Northern Pike pikelures3-article

If there is one species of fish where the use of artificial baits shines, it's the Northern Pike. These voracious predators don't seem to be very picky when it comes to prey. Although, I've still had my fair share of chasers that just wouldn't commit. Fishing for Northern Pike is most often casting lures along weed beds or wood piles; or trolling lake structure where larger predatory fish are holding.

There are plenty of artificial bait options, but you can't go wrong with larger spoons or inline spinners. Spoons from Williams, Len Thompson, Eppinger, Northland, Lucky Strike, Mepps or Blue Fox are all excellent options. One of my absolute favorites is a Johnson's Silver Minnow tipped with a 5” white grub or a Fin-Tech Title Shot Spoon. The #5 in-line spinners from Mepps, Blue Fox and the Luhr Jensen Shyster also see plenty of water. Minnow stick baits, such as the Rapala Husky Jerk HJ12, X-Rap XR12 or F11/13 floater and the Bagley Monster Bang-O DB08, are also excellent producers.  If you want to bring a couple of larger baits, the Rapala Super Shad Rap, the 7"/9" Suick Original Thriller, Odyssey Pig Jr., and the Legend Lures Sunny are great choices.   There are some great plastics as well, including the LUnker City Slug-Go worm and paddtail minnows like the Berkley Powershad.  Other successful baits include 1 oz. hairpin spinnerbaits, 1 oz. bucktail jigs tipped with a 5” grub or a quick-strike rig baited with a large salted minnow.  Don't overlook using larger Pike flies either.  Flies such as Dahlberg Divers and Lefty's Deceivers are large enough that you can easily chuck them out using a spinning setup and a spin float.

It's easy to go a little overboard when it comes to Pike gear. You really only need a handful of spoons, spinners and a couple of minnow stick baits. Make sure to bring along some leaders as well. Some 9” and 12” nylon coated wire leaders are just fine, but I prefer the 80-100lb test fluorocarbon leaders. I often use both depending on how I am fishing.

 

 

 Smallmouth Bass smallmouthlures1-article

Bass, the fish species most adored by tackle companies.   It's amazing how many different methods of fishing for bass there are [and the tackle to go along with them!].  Albeit, their breadth of habitat and forage base is responsible.   Smallmouth Bass are often found in similar habitats to Walleye. Rocky areas are particularly good, especially near deep cold water. Rock piles, rocky shores and shoals with rock rubble are all great locations.  Even weed beds will hold them. 

You can use various presentations to target all these types of habitat. Minnows, leeches or nightcrawlers on a jig or under a slip float work well. A drop shot rig with live bait or artificial finesse baits has also become a very popular technique for targeting Smallmouth Bass. If you're fishing heavy rock rubble and boulders, artificial lures fished just above the rocks will truly shine. Crankbaits, like the Rapala Shad Rap SR7, Koppers Live Target Smallmouth or the Lucky Craft LC2.5 DDRT are just a few of many excellent options.  In-line spinners and safety-pin spinnerbaits are also great for fishing this habitat. There are plenty of rigs for fishing with artificial plastic worms and creature baits as well. Also, don't forget some top water crankbaits as well! There is nothing more fun than catching Smallies on top water. 

If you're already Walleye fishing you can use the much of the same tackle. The only addition I would make is to add 1-2 top water baits, like a Heddon Zara Spook, Abrogast Jitterbug/Hula Popper or other plastic frog like an Spro Bronzeye Frog. A few plastic finesse and cigar worms and worm hooks; and a couple of tube jigs couldn't hurt either.  It's truly mindboggling how many ways to fish for smallmouth there are.  So, only take the tackle you need for the technique(s) you use most of the time.

 

 

 

 

Lake Trout laketroutlure2-article

Unless you're fishing in the spring just after ice-out, Lake Trout will likely be in 45+ feet of water, either on the bottom or suspended over deeper water. Two effective methods to fish deep Lake Trout are trolling and vertical jigging. You can troll various types of spoons, inline spinners or minnow stick baits using a three-way setup or a diver setup (e.g., Dipsy Diver, Jet Diver, Pink Lady or a Walker Diver). Methods that use lead-core or steel lines are far too heavy to bring along on an outpost trip. I find the three-way setup to be an easy and highly effective technique for catching summer lakers. It only requires standard spinning gear, light test line and 3-6oz. of lead weights. The divers put a lot more strain on the fishing rod and are probably best used with a heavier power rod. 

Some of my favorite lures for summer time Lake Trout trolling are the Williams Whitefish C70/C80, Williams Wabler W60/W70 and the 4.5" Lucky Strike Half Wave Spoon.  Trolling a Rapala Original F09/F11 or Jointed J09/J11 Minnow has also boated many Lake Trout.

There are also several effective vertical jigging setups. Try jigging 1 oz. bucktail or plain jigs tipped with a plastic grub, swimbait, live minnow or cut-bait; or a white tube jig. You can also try using a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow or cut-bait. To get down deep enough with vertical jigging you might have to anchor. Otherwise, even a slow drift can put your lure out of the desired target depth.

 

If you're planning on targetting these deep water predators a couple of trolling spoons, a minnow stick bait and a couple of tube jigs or swimbait jigs should be enough.  The same spoons are also often used for Northern Pike fishing as well.

 

 

Brook (Speckled) Trout brooktroutlures1-article

 

In general, when anglers talk about Brook Trout, most people automatically think about fly fishing streams and rivers. Not surprising given that Brook Tout forage primarily on insects and insect larvae, making them a perfect target for fly fishing. However, there are plenty of lakes that hold large populations of Brookies and you can easily target them with a spinning setup (or bring your fly fishing gear!).   There is a surprising range of tackle that can be used to target Brook Trout.  Especially if they are lake residents.   The premier method for these beautiful fish are live bait rigs.   A spinner rig with a worm or minnow; or live bait under a slip float will land you some nice fish.

 

If you want to use some artificials lures, try using #0 to #3 in-line spinners like the Mepps Aglia, Panther Martin, Luhr Jensen Shyster and Bang Tail, Rooster tail or Blue Fox Vibrax; small spoons like the EGB Blinker, Acme Little Cleo and Kamlooper, Delfin Aligator and Asenskjea, Blue Fox Pixie, Luhr Jensen Krocodile or Gibbs Koho and Croc; or small minnow stick baits like the Rapala Countdown CD05, Yo-Zuri L Minnow or the Storm Thunderstick Jr. Tipping your spinners or spoons with some worm or minnow can also make a big difference, so I highly recommend it.   If you're fishing deeper water, a bucktail jig is a great choice or try trolling in-line spinners, spoons, crankbaits or hybrids like the Gibbs Hockey Stick and the Apex Trout Killer.

 

Live bait rigs and a few spoons, spinners and minnow stick baits should be more than sufficient for an outpost trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Perch and other Panfish panfishlure3-article

Probably the most popular method to catch panfish is with live bait. Worms and minnows both work equally well.  Bait a small jig or use a slip bobber set-up and you will have non-stop action like a free sample bar at Costco.  Even so, that has not stopped the tackle manufacturers from producing an incomprehensible number of artificial baits for panfish.   I thought the bass tackle industry had gotten out of hand, wow!.   Of course, there is good reason for this [isn't there?].   Artificial baits work on panfish and work very well.  Not to mention you won't have to re-bait your hook every 10 seconds!  Try panfishing with five kids and you'll gain a whole new appreciation for them.  

There are plenty of options for vertical jigging or for cast & retrieve.   You can jig with a lead head jig and 2" grub; or use a variety of pre-baited panfish jigs like the Custom Jigs & Spins Ratso, Blue Fox Foxee Jig or Gapen Jiget.   Bucktail jigs, like the Lindy Little Nipper, are also very effective.  You can also tip a micro-jig or dropper jig with micro-bait such as Gulp Alive 1.5" Fish Fry, 1" Minnows or Waxies.  However, my personal favorite artificial jig is a 1.5” micro-tube.  I put one of those on before I even touch live bait. 

If you want to try some cast and retrieve, you can't go wrong with a small hairpin spinnerbait or something like a Johnson Beetle Spin.  The standard minnow imitation baits in smaller sizes, such as the Rapala Floating F5 or X-Rap XR4, are also just as effective as their larger counterparts.  Some manufacturers have made panfish specific crankbaits as well, such as the Yo-Zuri Pin Minnow, the Bandit 200 Series, the Storm Deep Bay Thunderstick and the Bill Lewis Mini Trap.  The number of options is truly mindboggling. 

For an outpost trip I'd suggest using live bait under a slip float, some 1.5" micro-tube jigs, a spinner bait and one or two small crankbaits.   Those have always worked for me and you won't likely need much else.    Also, if you run out of bait (or don't have any) using a Perch eye or strip of belly meat work even better than worms or minnows.   This is legal in Ontario as long as you don't waste the edible parts of the fish (i.e., don't catch a fish, poke it's eyes out and throw it back!).

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Tackle to Bring

Terminal Tackle

You will need an assortment of terminal tackle, such as swivels, hooks, split-shot weights, slip sinkers, bell sinkers and leaders. Obviously what you need to bring depends on what techniques you are planning on using and what species you are targeting.

  • split shot weights - twelve each of sizes 7, 5 and 3

  • bell sinkers – five to eight 1 oz. if you're planning on using a three-way setup

  • bottom bouncers or pencil weights – three to five 1-1.5 oz., two 2 oz.

  • slip/egg/walking sinkers – ten 1/4 oz., ten 3/4 oz. for Lindy rigs.

  • hooks – Octopus or other live bait hooks – a dozen each of good quality (e.g., Owner, Gamakatsu, Mustad Ultra) hooks in sizes 8, 6, 4 and 2

  • hooks – EWG worm hooks – a dozen size 1/0 or 3/0 if you're fishing with long finesse or cigar worms

  • hooks – treble – a few in sizes 6 and 4 to replace any that may break on your favorite crank bait

  • hooks – Mustad Slow Death – a dozen in size 4 or 2

  • swivels – barrel – a dozen or so in various sizes

  • swivels – three way – a dozen in size 6 or 4

  • swivels – snap – a couple dozen of various sizes of your favorite type – coastlock, safety snap, duolock, cross-lock, interlock etc.

  • leaders – six 9” and six 12”/18” nylon coated steel; or two or three 80lb test fluorocarbon

  • beads – dozen 4mm beads for Lindy and Slip Bobber rigs

  • bobber stops – six of your favorite type

  • slip bobbers – two to four in two different sizes, for panfish and Walleye/Smallmouth

  • leader material – 6 – 10 lb fluorocarbon leader material if you're using braided superline

  • jig heads – lead - about four dozen 1/4 oz. and 3/8 oz in various colors. Include a couple dozen 1/32 oz. and 1/8 oz. if you're also targeting panfish; and four 1 oz. for Lake Trout.

  • jig heads – floating – a dozen floating jig heads

  • jig heads – tube – six 1/4 oz. for Smallmouth, six 1 oz. for Lake Trout.

  • crawler harness – two dozen of various colors; include some floating if you have them

  • live bait spinner – six Victor Spoon or similar spinners

Lures:

  • minnow stick/jerk baits – two or three 3” or 4”; one or two 2” if there are Brook Trout

  • deep-diving minnow baits – one or two

  • shad style baits – three medium divers; one shallow diver

  • top water baits – one or two

  • spinnerbaits – two 1/4oz. or 1/2 oz.; one or two 1 oz. for Northern Pike

  • in-line spinners – three #3 and three #5; three #0 or #1 if there are Brook Trout

  • spoons – five or six 1 oz. (3” to 4”)

  • lipless – one or two

Plastics:

  • grubs – three dozen 3”/4” grubs in a few colors like white, pink, chartreuse, smoke or pumpkin

  • worms – one dozen finesse or cigar in white, pink or pumpkin

  • creatures – six in pumpkin

  • tubes – six 3” or 4” in white

  • swim baits – six white flukes or paddle tails

  • minnows – two dozen 3” and 4” Gulp black shad

  • micro-baits – one package/jar of maggots, waxies, fish fry in white or pink

The total amount of tackle you need to bring should fill one, MAYBE two, Plano 3770 boxes. The total weight of all your tackle and tools should be between 5 and 10 lbs.

I hope this article has offered you some useful tips and information on how to plan and organize the packing of your outpost trip. It's important to reiterate that it's a balancing act and you do not need to sacrifice every luxury to meet your weight allowance. It's still a vacation after all, and besides, if you really want to bring along 100 lbs of extra gear for an additional $50 to $100 charge, it's hard to argue with that.

 

Acknowledgements

I'd like to thank all the fly-in fishing outfitters in Ontario and the members of the www.walleyecentral.com and www.ontariofishingcommunity.com fishing forums for providing useful tips and information that helped me put this article together.

 

Click HERE to Download a PDF copy of the list.