I can’t believe it but another year has passed. 2019 marks our 11th year producing and hosting Fishful Thinker TV. While a normal TV show airing-season is 13 episodes, we’re a glutton for punishment and produce two seasons per year, meaning 26 original episodes. And what might you guess does the production of all of those episodes - about 260 of them now - have in common? A road trip!
We’ve always been regional in our production, filming the vast majority of the shows within about an eight hour drive of Denver. We’ve flown to a couple of destinations while making what we call “vacation shows”, most recently to northwest Florida to film our first inshore salt water shows and another time to south Texas to fish legendary Falcon Lake for giant bass. But we basically always drive, even when we venture outside our normal range.
Longer trips included Iowa to film with the Berkley guys at Spirit Lake and Missouri with some Ranger boats folks, and a bunch of the time we’ll hit several locations to produce multiple episodes over a given trip, even if it is within our “easy” eight hour range. Given that we may include several types of fishing, we require a lot of gear and tackle. Another detail is that we are very often pulling a 21’ Ranger boat or possibly have a smaller boat stuffed in the back of the Tundra. And in case all those film trips aren’t enough, we road trip often for fun fishing and also hunting all season. All of this packing, driving, towing, living out of the back of a pickup, and unpacking has taught me a few things over the last decade, and I thought I’d share them in case it will help those that don’t road-trip as much as we do.
I almost hate to say this out loud, but we have never had any major troubles on the road; knock on wood. A major part of that is that I drive uber-reliable Toyota Tundras. I say Tundras, plural, because, over the 11 years of production, we’ve swapped them several times. I always modify them to fit our specific needs which starts with a topper to keep our stuff dry and secure. My toppers are equipped with serious Rigid LED lighting inside for convenience, and a BedRug keeps our fancy tackle - and old knees - from getting banged up. But those are comfy things; we beef up the rear leaf springs to handle the extra weight of the boat and a full bed load. This keeps the truck riding level when fully loaded which is paramount to good handling and braking, especially while towing in the mountains we commonly traverse.
I keep very good tires on the truck at all times and check the air pressure before EVERY trip. No, I don’t rely on the Tundra’s built in warning system. I check and adjust pressure regularly. If nothing else, this will slow tire wear. I also keep very good windshield wipers, the washer fluid reservoir full, and coat the windshield itself with Rain-X all because visibility is no joke. The boat trailer gets equal consideration; tires and pressure are checked all the time and every stop along the way includes feeling each hub for heat and checking straps for tension.
We always carry a tool kit that includes tools specific to anything common like trailer lugs, duct tape, some basic electrical stuff, etc. A 30,000 pound rated tow strap, quality leather gloves, a block of wood for the jack to lift from and a good headlamp also always tag along. To be honest, we’ve used most of this stuff to help others in need far more than on our own vehicle, but it is good to have it, nonetheless.
A few things help make life on the road better. One is a high quality cooler, or two. We use the OtterBox Venture series as the main cooler in the back of the truck because, even on a 10-12 day road trip, we never have to get more ice. We also carry a smaller Trooper series cooler inside the cab for quality road snacks; this prevents us from eating a bunch of junk food along the way. Bringing all requisite food is much cheaper and better for us in the long run.
We use large plastic tubs with locking lids for packing because they are stackable and keep stuff from getting damaged. One tub may contain all our cooking items, another all the spare tackle, and yet another wading gear. The BedRug keeps them from sliding around. Hauling rods can be tricky; all my St. Croixs get rod sleeves and then the entire selection is wrapped with Velcro straps so they move as a unit. I lay a towel over them to prevent vibration wear.
Call me old school, but I still carry a paper map or atlas. Phones lose reception in the boonies, truck navigation systems lose back road detail when zoomed out, but a paper map always works. I carry an 800 lumens flashlight and, along with the aforementioned head lamp, it gets used frequently. A couple of ratchet-style tie down straps stay in the truck and get used to secure the gear boxes or anything else I need in the truck bed.
Road tripping is part of the outdoor lifestyle. Consider these simple tips gleaned from many years of living it.