As a professional tournament angler, traveling the country from lake to lake year-round is a feat. Long hours on the road, practice on the water from sunup to sundown, and reserving dozens of accommodations throughout the season is both time consuming and expensive. When I started out a few years ago, traveling on a budget was paramount, which meant tent camping to save a few dollars was the way to go – regardless of weather. It wasn’t all that bad!
When not on the road for tournaments, my wife and I love to travel, fish and camp together. Our favorite destinations are Oneida Lake and the 1000 Islands in New York, in search of giant smallmouth, as well as National Parks around the country. As I write this article, we’re packing for a long weekend at the 1000 Islands! Through the years of tournament seasons on the road and fun fishing trips, we’ve perfected some tips for both travel and camping.
Dedicate a box
First, our camping box is an essential that comes with us on all of our camping trips. This plastic gear box is worth its weight in gold and contains all the essentials needed for cooking dinner on a campfire after a long day on the water, as well as setting up a comfortable camp. If you have ever fished up north, you probably know how tasty a freshly filleted walleye is on the fire!
Some of the priorities not to be left out include:
If you’re car-camping and gear weight isn’t a consideration, I highly recommend sizing up for the tent. A four-person tent comfortably sleeps two, with an air mattress. Be sure to check that the air mattress pump batteries are working before you go (I may have run into this issue more than once!). A tarp under the tent helps to prevent tears and leaving off the rain fly is never a good idea, regardless how sunny it is while setting up.
After a long day on the water, you can’t beat a great campfire. If you haven’t tried a rocking camp chair, you are missing out. I tried one for the first time this year, and it’s a camping game changer for sure. My wife and I love enjoying dinner on the fire with our GCI Outdoor RoadTrip Rocker camp chairs. If you’re interested, there is a special at Dick’s Sporting Goods on the patriotic Freedom Rocker Chair. A dollar from each purchase will be donated to both K9s for Warriors and Homes for Our Troops, with a maximum contribution of $50,000 to each charity.
Since partnering with GCI Outdoors this year, our camping game has stepped up a notch – we now travel with a GCI Compact Camp Table all the time. While there’s nothing wrong with using your tailgate, this lightweight collapsible table is never left behind when camping. It is perfect for filleting and prepping campfire meals.
For fishing trips in the heart of summer, when the sun rises early and sets late, I bring along my portable Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill for a simple camping dinner after a long day on the water. It is quick and easy to throw on some steaks, burgers or fish, and prep tackle for the next day while the Traeger cooks the best meat you’ll eat.
Late summer into fall is a perfect time to get out on the water and do some camping. As the fishing gets good again, take the family out and have some fun!