The Essential Seven

Ruben Villarreal
The Essential Seven
Having a Sabiki rig handy is invaluable when filling the livewell with frisky baits.

When it comes to preparing for an offshore trip it doesn't matter if you are going out ten miles or one hundred; whether you go by bay boat, big center console, or sportfishing yacht, preparation is preparation. The essential seven does not include the obvious things such as fresh line on your reels or making sure your boat's batteries are fully charged. I'm talking about little everyday things that should be onboard to enhance your trip. Sometimes we get so caught up concentrating on the obvious that we fail to think outside the box.

Super Glue: A bottle of superglue can be worth its weight in platinum on a fishing trip. Its many uses include securing knots in super-braid line and a quick fix for re-attaching loose rod tips. Cuts on hands and fingers are everyday occurrences for offshore fishermen and superglue can seal them like liquid stitches after cleansing the wound.

Rubber bands: Rubber bands are great for keeping things organized in groups such as hooks, but are really good for wrapping around the handle of your reel to hold the line coming off you're your rod tip when trolling. Lowering the angle of the line gives your lure a better presentation. Rubber bands are also a good choice when used in conjunction with outrigger clips to insure a soft release and eliminating potential damage to outrigger poles.

String and Swivel: The string and swivel is a basic tool that gives the knot tier a stable point to pull against versus just trying to hold the swivel or the hook in your hand and running the risk of getting stuck with a hook and going to the emergency room to get it out. All you have to do is find any secure spot on the boat and loop it on and you're in business.

Sabiki Rigs: Being diversified in your bait presentation is one of the keys to being successful in your offshore trip. It doesn't matter if your state water snapper fishing or fishing for blue marlin; having live bait could make the difference in actually getting bit. Sabiki rigs are a good insurance policy to having better hookups at times and possibly stirring up more predators.

Drift Sock: The drift sock is a valuable tool with many applications. If you happen to be drifting around a rig you can slow the drift to gain fishing time and hopefully put more fish in the boat. Drift socks are extremely valuable when fishing over bottom structure such as wrecks, sunken rigs and wellheads. Here again, more time to drift or drop baits over the structure versus having the wind or the current, or both, push you off the spot is often one of the keys to successful angling.

Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is very effective for brining bait such as ballyhoo. Brining helps preserve and toughens the bait so that when it is pulled through the water it doesn't get soft and mushy and fall off the hook easily. Those five pound boxes of cigar minnows and Spanish sardines that many anglers pick up at there favorite bait stand could also use a generous dusting of Kosher salt. How many times have you been out with your buddies and by the middle of the day you open a box of sardines only to be met with the disappointment of soggy minnows that gamefish or less glamorous species can easily pick off your hook? Kosher salt can help preserve those cigar minnows and sardines so long as you keep the melted ice water off them.

Snorkel Mask: If you fish long enough offshore, a snorkel mask will one day become your best friend due to the obvious fact that you can't see like a fish. One day you will be out on the water and get a line or leader wrapped in your prop or, even worse, spin a hub. When this happens, tilting your motor sometimes isn't enough and you will have to get into the water to get a better handle on the situation. Donning a PFD and mask will aid in identifying and correcting the problem.

So the next time you prepare for an offshore trip, review your check list and see if you have included the essential seven. Remember, it's those little things found outside the box that can make an offshore trip even more memorable.