Ocean Fishing Safety: Why You Need a Ditch Bag & What To Pack

By Alycia Downs

Jun 06, 2018

A ditch bag is a critical item on every ocean fishing safety checklist. Learn why you need a ditch bag and what to pack in yours.

Offshore saltwater fishing is a renowned style of angling pursuit in the coastal United States and it’s easy to see the appeal. Access to remote fishing grounds, a test of skill and the thrill of reeling in large, powerful game fish. But with reward, comes risk.

Responsible boaters understand that ocean fishing safety is always priority one, especially when venturing offshore. Boat captains are responsible for outfitting their vessel with an array of offshore fishing safety gear and procedures. One critical item that all boaters should include on their ocean fishing safety checklist is a ditch bag.

A ditch bag is a compact, buoyant bag that is stocked with critical ocean fishing safety gear that you might need in an emergency. If you had to abandon ship, the items in your ditch bag would enable you to summon help and survive in a life raft. It should be stored in a secure, accessible place on your vessel so that it can be grabbed quickly in an emergency. Here are some key items to include when packing your ditch bag.


●    EPIRB or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon 
●    PLB or Personal Locator Beacon
●    Handheld VHF Radio 
●    Handheld GPS 
●    Satellite Phone 
●    Cell Phone in Waterproof Case
●    Solar Charger 
●    Distress or Strobe Light
●    Handheld and Laser Flares
●    Dye Marker
●    Gloves
●    Signaling Mirror 
●    Flashlight
●    Air Horn 
●    Whistle
●    Extra Batteries


●    Flotation Device
●    Folding Knife
●    Knife Sharpener
●    Cutting Board
●    Tarp 
●    Paracord 
●    Space Blankets
●    Compass
●    Waterproof Charts
●    Light Sticks
●    Binoculars
●    Flotation Device
●    Life Vest Rearming Kit
●    Raft Repair Kit
●    Compact Fishing Kit
●    Sunscreen & Hats 
●    Sunglasses
●    Mug
●    Duct Tape
●    Fire Starter
●    Shears


●    Emergency Food Rations
●    Drinking Water Packets
●    Protein Bars
●    Peanut Butter
●    Trail Mix


●    Extensive First Aid Kit 
●    Prescriptions
●    Motion Sickness Treatment
●    Vitamin C Tablets
●    Chapstick 
●    Disinfecting Wipes


●    Copy of Passport or ID
●    Currency
●    Spare Credit Card
●    Boat Documentation
●    Copy of Health Insurance
●    Emergency Medical Forms
●    Spare Car Key
●    Reading Glasses
●    Games

You can find a wide selection of ditch bags online or in most boating or outdoor retail stores. Learn more safety tips on our offshore fishing safety page and check out our boat safety checklist.

Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs is a freelance content creator and avid sportsman who contributes to numerous publications promoting tourism, fishing, and outdoors. Alycia is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and is actively involved with conservation and fishing non-profit organizations. Visit her personal blog at tideandtale.com or on Instagram @tideandtale.