As much as I wish all my fishing took place on hard to access Northern Lakes its not my reality. Much of my fishing is done at the cottage which as a middle-aged family man means I have to make some compromises along the way. Cottage Life What do I compromise? Well time, space and effort would be the main ones. When we are lucky enough to spend some time at various family cottages its almost always a family event. For me that means loading up the truck with copious amounts of stuff (dog included), spending time doing various water and land sports that have nothing to do with fishing and helping with meals, campfires, and other events. Don’t get me wrong I love every minute of it but based on those commitments I have made some edits to the gear I bring with me to fish.
Rod and Reel
Yes, this is singular by design. For my cottage weekends I only bring 1 rod and reel combo. My set up is a 2 piece spinning rod paired with a 2500 series spinning reel. My personal rig is a 7 foot Fenwick Eagle, Medium action rod paired with a Pflueger President 30X reel. I won’t (can’t) get into detailed technical specs but I like this combo for its versatility and pack size. At 7 feet long I can certainly fire long casts off the dock and handle the various species and size of fish I may encounter (mainly bass, walleye and pike). I also like the fact that it’s a two-piece rod – it breaks down to a manageable size needed when we are taking everything but the kitchen sink with us. The reel is spooled with 15 lb Power Pro braided line with a 6 foot fluorocarbon leader, joined with a Seaguar knot. I have found this set up works for the bulk of fishing techniques I will use – trolling, casting topwaters, wacky or Ned rigging or even soaking a bobber if one of the kids wants a turn.
I won’t spell out every single lure I take (the picture below shows better than tells) but I can break it down into buckets.
1) Soft Plastics – 80% of my soft plastics are either for wacky rigging or ned rigging. I also include a few grubs, finesse worms and some minnow style swim baits
2) Crankbaits – a mix of minnow, shad and square lip crankbaits
3) Topwaters – some chug baits, some prop baits and some walk the dog baits
4) Spinners and Spoons – a few spinnerbaits, a few Mepps Black Furies and a couple of pike spoons
I don’t bring a ton of hardware – mainly I have some drop shot weights, Ned rig style jig heads, traditional jig heads, snap swivels (fishing off the dock I change lures a lot and almost always have a snap on), a mix of wide gap finesse hooks, a few bobbers and assorted bait hooks.
My tool set up is very basic – a small multi tool (with pliers and a knife) a spool of 10 LB fluorocarbon line and a small bottle of Berkley Powerbait Bass Scent (which I use on hard baits)
My “Tackle Box”
Quotes because I don’t actually take a tackle box. I take 1 Plano 3500 Series tray, that’s it. As mentioned, space is at a premium so I pared down my set up and ended up creating my own little rig. Images will explain better but basically, I have glued a large sized pencil case to the lid of the tray which houses all my plastics, multi tool and line. I keep my small bottle of scent in the tray. That’s it
I have been using this set up for about 3 years and I love it. To date I have caught smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pike, walleye and even musky. Since I generally go to the same lakes every year I may replace lures or try some new ones but for the most part I stick with lures I have confidence in. Keep in mind I do the bulk of my fishing off the dock, maybe a little in my kayak and the odd hour or two in the fishing boat. This summer (summer plans post coming soon) I will be doing a backcountry canoe trip in Algonquin and will modify this set up slight as two of the lakes we will be on have lake and brook trout.
Don’t get me wrong – I love fishing gear as much as anyone and I take a lot more rods and lures when I know I am on a fishing weekend but for family weekends at the cottage I love this set up and it has served me well. I honestly can only think of 1 or two times where I was looking for something more (large musky following my spinner bait!)