Have you ever been to the beach for a casual outing and chuckled at the tourists lugging nearly everything they own to the sand. Coolers, umbrellas, towels, beach chairs, toys, sunscreen, kids…and the list goes on. Don’t laugh too hard just yet because if you routinely fish Florida’s beaches and piers, you’ve probably committed the same obscene act. Rather than trudging through parking lots with inflatable beach toys, you’re shuffling buckets, nets, sand spikes, coolers and rods.
Although land based angling is indeed simplistic with no boat required, if you're serious about getting hooked up than you'll want all of the necessary gear and equipment at your disposal. Unless you are fortunate to live near a beach where you're offered 4x4 access and you can use your truck as the mother of all tackle boxes, you'll need a way to carry and transport your gear. Fishing carts aren't going to make fish jump on your line, however they do offer a solution to storing and transporting essential gear and equipment. There's nothing worse than not having a piece of tackle you desperately need because you left it at home or in your vehicle.
Fishing carts come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit a wide range of applications. Manufactured from corrosion-resistant aluminum or stainless steel from builders who specialize in carts, homemade versions can be as simple as a flat piece of plywood on wheels to an extravagant wagon with rod holders, tackle drawers and low-pressure balloon tires to float over soft sand. Since beach carts sell for upwards of $80 to $300, many anglers choose to manufacture their own. If you're even the slightest bit handy you can build a custom creation to suit all of your on-the-go needs. Before you make a purchase or sketch up a blueprint for a cart, first be honest with yourself and determine exactly what you'll need to tip the angling odds in your favor. If you're just starting your land based fishing career it may seem a bit absurd to invest $200 in a tricked out beach cart. The bottom line is now that you're ready to get in the game, make sure the cart you're about to build or purchase fits your needs.
First, no matter what special features you desire, your cart must be able to withstand a constant barrage of corrosive salt and sand. Not all fishing carts are created equal, and nothing is worse than losing a wheel or breaking an axle while en route to your favorite fishing destination. Speaking of wheels, if you plan on spending most of your time on fishing piers than small, firm tires will suffice. If you're going to be cruising the beaches, utilize fat, air-filled tires that will glide over rather than plow through soft sand. While manufacturers may claim their standard wheels are perfect for a day at the beach, take heed from experienced anglers and go above and beyond.
Next on the list of must haves is a dedicated spot for a cooler. Unless you enjoy the aftertaste of clam, shrimp or sand fleas, it is highly recommended that you separate bait from food and beverages. If you prefer to fish with live bait you could mount a portable baitwell with a battery powered aerator. Depending on the species you intend to maintain, you might be able to get away with a simple unit powered by AA batteries, or you may opt for a sophisticated system utilizing a 12-volt battery bank.
You'll also need adequate space for rod holders and tackle boxes. Some of the store-bought fishing carts feature bait-prep stations, pullout storage lockers and measuring devices. All of these added features leave you with everything you need at arm's reach.
Often overlooked, it's also critical that your cart, whether purchased or homemade, will fit in your vehicle. If you have a pickup truck this isn't such an issue, but if you drive an SUV or smaller automobile you'll need to think of this ahead of time. Some carts are collapsible, while others feature more solid construction. You can also purchase a mounting bracket to store your cart outside of your vehicle, which will keep sand and fishy odors outside.
With an early morning stroll down your local pier you'll be able to easily identify the seasoned salts. They'll be fishing multiple rods and dressed for a long day in the sun. You'll also likely notice a fishing cart in the near vicinity. Seasoned vets aren't too worried about fancy features, rather something simple that gets the job done trip after trip. If we can leave you with one piece of advice it's that the deeper you delve into beach and pier fishing the more gear you'll want to have with you, so make sure your beach cart offers room to grow.
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