Laced with thousands of acres of waterways – and flanked by the massive Toledo Bend Reservoir to the west, the mighty Mississippi River to the east and the giant Gulf of Mexico along its southern border – Louisiana is an angler’s dream come true.
Freshwater fishing is unmatched on the state’s rivers, lakes and bayous, while deep-sea charters lure legendary saltwater catches, too. But the more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your adventure will be. To help you hook a big one that won’t get away, we’ve compiled this handy list of what to pack for your Louisiana fishing trip.
What to Bring for Inland Fishing
- Sun & Bug Protection: You’ll want to stay out casting your line all day – trust us – so be sure to pack protection from the sun. A hat, polarized sunglasses (to minimize the water’s glare) and sunscreen will do just that. Water tends to attract a few bugs and mosquitos, too, but they’ll leave you be if you spray them away.
- Layered Clothing: Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean you can throw on shorts, a T-shirt and sandals. Sun exposure can cause burns, exhaustion and dehydration, so you’ll want to cover up. Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts with ventilation will actually keep you cooler. Add a pair of synthetic, quick-drying pants and waterproof, rubber-soled shoes (for traction) and you’ll be good to go.
- Light Jacket: In case you get a little cold or damp, a light jacket will save the day. If possible, pack one with lots of pockets to stash your stuff when needed.
- Dry Socks, Shoes and Clothes: If you have the space in your bag, throw in an extra pair of shoes and socks – and another outfit for when the day is done. These back-up dry options will come in handy if the ones you’re wearing get too wet and uncomfortable.
- Waterproof Waders: If you plan to leave the shore or boat to venture into the water, waders to keep you dry are worth their weight in gold!
- Fishing Gear: Of course you’ll need rods and reels, lures and bait, hooks and sinkers, a tackle box and tools. But be sure to pack the specific equipment and bait to match the type of fish you’re after. Here’s a handy gear guide for beginners – and a breakdown of basic fishing equipment – but Google is full of more in-depth resources as well. And how much ever fishing line you think you’ll need, take twice that. You don’t want unintended breaks or tangles to cut a trip short.
- Cooler with Ice: No, not for you – to hold any fish you decide to take home for dinner. Keeping your catches on ice will prevent premature spoilage caused by the hot sun. You’ll also need to take along water to stay hydrated, which you can store in the cooler until that first catch comes in.
- First Aid Kit and Medication: An unexpected cut or scrape needn’t ruin your day. A basic first aid kit with a few bandages, gauze, waterproof tape, alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment and pain relievers will take care of most minor fishing-related injuries. Hand sanitizer is essential after handling fish – and if you’re on any prescription medication, be sure to pack it as well.
- Smartphone or Camera: A GPS-enabled smartphone not only helps with directions, but also provides communication should the need arise. (If you’re unfamiliar with an area, a printed map is valuable, too.) Besides, you’ll want to snap some great photos of the day’s epic haul as well!
- Waterproof Bag: When you’re not using that phone or camera, be sure to keep it in a waterproof bag or box – along with your wallet, purse and car keys.
- Louisiana Fishing License: Purchase your fishing license! Recreational fishing in Louisiana requires a state-issued permit, which can be obtained quickly and easily online. A basic license ranges from $9.50 for residents to $60 for non-residents, but some types of specialty fishing require different fees. Get more information now (and save time later) by securing your fishing license online!
What to Bring for Deep Sea Charter Fishing
In addition to the basics above, keep these items in mind when venturing into much larger bodies of water.
- Deep Sea Fishing Gear: Most charter boats provide everything you need at sea, but be sure to check with the company you’ve selected beforehand.
- Sea Sickness Medication: If you haven’t been out on the ocean before – or are prone to motion sickness – keep Dramamine or other similar medicine at the ready. Nothing will ruin a fishing trip quicker than a queasy stomach that won’t stop rumbling.
- Jacket/Layers of Clothing: It tends to be 10-20 degrees cooler out on the ocean – with wind and weather changing more rapidly – so pack layers you can easily take on and off as needed.
- Swimsuit: If the fish stop biting, you may want to take a plunge in the water to cool off. Just be sure to ask your guide if and when it’s safe to do so.
- Cash: For charter trips, you’ll want cash on hand to pay for additional services (like fish cleaning and prep) and to tip your guide after a safe, enjoyable trip. Some boats also offer refreshments and gear for purchase.
- An Adventurous Spirit: A Louisiana deep sea fishing tour is an exhilarating experience – and your guide’s fishing license covers you – so come prepared for a worry-free, exciting day on the water. Imagine the stories you’ll have to tell back home. About the big ones that didn’t get away!