The Ultimate Boating Essentials Checklist – 10 things to bring on your next fishing trip


Fishing rods. Check.

Tackle box. Check.

Fishing net. Check.

Boat keys. Check.

All of the other necessities for successful fishing on the boat? Not check.

While the first four checklist items are a great start, there are many other fishing essentials you should store in your boat before taking to the water. Whether you’re only planning on fishing for a few hours or spending the entire day out on the boat, check out our ultimate boating essentials checklist to prepare for your next big fishing trip. (P.S. Leave a comment below on your must-have boating essentials.)

  1. First Aid Kit

Whether it’s a hook in the ear, sunburn or something more serious, make sure your first aid kit is stocked with waterproof bandages, antiseptic, sterile gauze, medications (like over-the-counter pain relievers) and scissors. Getting help quickly out on the water isn’t an easy task, so plan ahead (and be sure to tell someone where you are fishing and how long you plan to be out)!

  1. Safety Gear

Fishing buddy join you last minute? Friend’s boat broke down and needs to be towed? Boat won’t start? Wisconsin DNR regulations require you to have a wearable life jacket for each person on board and highly recommend you have flashlight (we suggest a waterproof one). Having these items, extra rope and a fully-charged cell phone will keep you prepared for any fishing surprises!

  1. Proper documentation

If you keep it in your car, you should keep it in your boat! Start this good habit now and keep proper documentation like proof of ownership, insurance coverage and emergency contact information onboard in case something goes wrong. Worried about losing your one and only copy? Wisconsin DNR’s new Go Wild system allows you to store some of your documentation like licenses and permits all in one place by issuing you a Go Wild card! Learn more about the Go Wild system here.

  1. A Copy of WI’s Rules and Regulations

Having a copy of Wisconsin’s fishing regulations onboard is helpful to know what fish you can keep and how many to avoid fines from the DNR. It’s also a great way to stay updated on new statewide rules!

  1. Sunscreen, Bug Spray and Clothing

If you want to make your fishing more enjoyable, have some sunscreen and bug spray onboard because it’s not fun to be sunburned and bitten by flies (especially at the same time). Make sure to replace them every year too (or when they expire)! It’s also important to wear (or pack) layers of clothing to protect yourself from the ever-changing weather of Wisconsin.

  1. Fire Extinguisher

It’s a Wisconsin requirement to store a fire extinguisher on your boat. Although it isn’t common, a fire on your boat can be life threatening. So, be prepared for the worse and make sure you know how to use it!

  1. A Sharp Knife

Whether you need to trim off excess rope or cut up bait, a sharp knife is a must-have item to keep in your boat (and even better to store in your tackle box!). Always remember to teach your children proper handling of knives like cutting away from their body and asking an adult before using them. Not sure what type of knife to purchase? Check out the best fishing knives here.

  1. Visual Distress Signals

Wisconsin state laws require you to keep a minimum of three visual distress signals on your boat! It may seem like a lot but having them available in case you get stranded is important! Check out Wisconsin’s boating laws for more information on what type of visual distress signals you should bring along on your next boating trip.  

  1. Extra Water and Food

A long and sunny day out on the boat can increase the potential for dehydration, so be sure to pack extra water so you don’t have to cut your fishing short. You also don’t want a boat full of hangry fishermen and fisherwomen, so pack some food too!

  1. Your Anchoring Skills

We all know that keeping an anchor (or two) on board is essential if you want to stop and fish, or to keep you from floating out to sea if your engine fails or in not-so-lovely weather. It’s also important to choose an anchor that fits your boat and the area you’ll be fishing. Check out these anchoring tips to brush up on your anchoring skills and to determine the best anchor for your boating conditions.


And there you have it: must-have boating essentials you should have before you go on your next boating trip. Although this is a helpful checklist to keep in mind, you should also take a moment to look at the other equipment Wisconsin requires you to have on your boat.