Top 5 Fish Camp Tips

Roughing it to up your fishing game

Kodiak tent lights up the mountain
Camping, when it comes to fishing trips, usually elicits a variety of responses from people who like to fish. Some people I know absolutely hate sleeping outdoors while others see the camping as part of the whole experience.
I was lucky enough to be raised in a camping family and have had the opportunity to camp all over the western US. So naturally as I began to venture off on longer fishing trips, being able to just throw down a camp and sleep wherever gave me quite a bit more flexibility rather than depending on hotels or limiting myself to one-day trips.

In the past few years, Cheech and I have been committed to spending more time on the water which usually means a lot of nights up in the hills or next to the lake in order to get an early/late start. We started to really dial in some things that we felt helped make things easier and get rid of excuses to not camp.  If you are more of a trailer or hotel person, this isn't for you but you might find it helpful anyway. If you want to go the economic route and enjoy nature a bit more, here's a quick compilation of fish camp hacks.

Fishing a calm section of water at dusk
1. Camping = More time on the water. The main and probably most important idea here is that by camping close to your ultimate fishing destination you will typically get more time on the water. When possible, even for a quicker one-day trip, we try to leave the afternoon or evening before so we can get on the water in the evening (great time for hatches) or early morning (before the river or lake becomes a zoo). I've actually found some of the best fishing we've had in the past few years has come during those early morning or later evening times I'd normally not be on the water.

2. Organize your gear. In order to accommodate #1 above, you can't be spending a load of time throwing your gear together an hour before you go. If you have a truck or SUV and can secure it, I'm a big fan of keeping a lot of basic camping and even fishing gear at the ready. Those handy lockable truck bed organizers or even just a simple Rubbermaid container (again in a lockable vehicle) can be kept in the vehicle. If you prefer not to store things there full time, just having them in bins or big bags at the ready in your garage or a closet will help to expedite the process. In my case, I have all my camping gear on a shelf in the garage. It's loaded into the truck within a couple of minutes and I'm ready to roll.

3. Get a "Go Bag". Similar to #2, I have a "Go Bag" that contains some basic cooking devices, dry good food, a water filter, lighter/matches, bottled water, knives, lights and some other basics, that could be used at any time. It's similar to an emergency kit. That way, I don't have to scrounge up small things from all over the place. Then you put those things into an actual backpack, duffle bag or these cool ditty sacks from REI.

Cheech ties during a late night session at fish camp
4. Power Up! I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but it's pretty dang nice to have a good source of power when camping. Goal Zero is a company down the road from my house here in Utah. They have some incredible outdoor solar-powered products that work great for camping. Not only that but they're good for emergency situations in your home. That said, we ended up getting a small solar powered generator kit called the Yeti 150. Along with that, we got some of these daisy-chain style LED lights to string in the tent, outside in the cooking area or wherever. They put out a lot of light and don't take up much energy. Plus, you can recharge the Yeti battery during the day with your solar panels so that Cheech can run his infernal fan all night long. All tolled, the Yeti has a USB charger, a car charger output, the Goal Zero accessory port for lights etc and a regular 120 V outlet. We can set the solar panels on the roof of the tent to charge it all during the day if needed.

5. Comfort is king. I'd say comfort (or lack thereof) is a big reason why people stay away from camping. If you're not comfortable, you don't sleep well and you'll be all grumpy the next day. Nobody likes a grump. So in order to take the comfort level up, I'm pretty much a car camping kinda guy. I have a bad back and can't do a lot of backpacking. Plus, I hate backpacking mummy bags. I like big comfortable sleeping bags that'll keep me warm even in the winter. So my ideal setup these days is a good tent I can stand up in and move around (Kodiak canvas springbar style), a nice sturdy cot with an insulative pad and a decent sleeping bag. If you've never slept on a cot with a good thermarest or thick foam pad, you're really missing out. It's really the next best thing to a legit bed. And in the cases where the tent didn't make the trip, I setup the cot and just sleep under the stars in comfort. All in all, with being able to stand up and move around in the tent, have a place to sit, store gear there and even tie some flies, it's a pretty slick setup that lends well to longer fishing trips.

In addition to these fishing-related tips, you can find a lot of fun camping hacks here and here

*** Note from Cheech - Get some comfy ear plugs.  I learned the hard way that Curtis snores like a congested mule.