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

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.

WAYS TO SUMMON HELP


●    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
 

SURVIVAL GEAR & TOOLS


●    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
 

NUTRITION & HYDRATION


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

MEDICAL NECESSITIES


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

PERSONAL ITEMS


●    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 Page

Alycia Page

Alycia Page is a writer, avid sportsman, and Southwest Florida native where her roots were planted four generations ago. Alycia works as a contributing blogger to numerous organizations promoting tourism, conservation, fishing and outdoor involvement. When not casting lines along the Gulf Coast, she can be found hunting, camping or chasing new adventures. For more outdoor inspiration, visit her personal blog at tideandtale.com or on Instagram @tideandtale.