Packing for Catalina...


Well-Known Member
May be finally going to Catalina this summer to fish. Went back through the board and in this case it's a situation of
too much available information... Too many posts to sort through to get to the relevant info... Made me wish there was
a sticky section with common tips and tutorials questions so this kind of info would be easily at hand.

So my question is how do you pack for Catalina? I read all of the baggage and luggage detail info on the Catalina
Express site (wont be going on the Flyer since it seems like they are even MORE restrictive of the luggage) and I was
wondering what you take, how you pack it, how it's stored on the boat, etc? Am I way overthinking this? Do you just
take your regular pier set-up, or do you have a Catalina specific set-up that you take? Would love pictures of pre-boarding
packing of fishing gear!




Well-Known Member
When I go I don’t go overnight. I take the first boat out of Long Beach and typically return on the 7:45pm.

I bring a regular fold up shopping style pier cart. Soft tackle box is on the bottom, soft cooler on the top. On top of this is a 5 gallon bucket with a 3 gallon bucket with a rope for collecting water inside. On top of that is a hoop net.

Inside the soft cooler is in 2lbs of head on market shrimp, 2 boxes of lug/blood worms and 1lb of frozen squid.

I bring up to 5 rods but only fish 2 at a time to comply with regulations. These are how the rods are rigged up:

1 small bass combo rigged with a float and a tiny hook sabiki for catching live bait

1-2 workhorse bottom fishing rod which is a two piece 7ft toadfish medium heavy, fast action rod rigged with a high low rig with 30lb flourocarbon leader and one size 6 bait holder hook and one size 8 mosquito hook

1 longer 9 foot rod for casting lures for bonito (stock baits, float and feather).

1 longer 9 foot rod with a bait runner style reel rigged with a dropper loop and larger circle hook targeting large bass with live bait dropped straight down or casting out looking for bigger Sheephead or sculpin using a big piece of squid.

Have a good time!
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Senior Member
Yes, you are over-thinking it.

The CE crew are very customer service oriented. The only NO, NO is four-wheel carts. So is compressed stove fuel.
Exception is the folding groceries carts. See my recent post.

Due to kelp, I stay with one hook rigs. I do not use multi hook (Sabiki) rigs.

If I cast far with dropper loop rig, I almost always lose my rig. Others have done better than me to catch sheephead or ocean white fish that way.

Bring plenty of hooks and sinkers. Nothing more three (3) oz. is needed.

I recommend two-piece rods, instead of one piece 9 or 10 footers. Hard to manage on the boat.

Bring a setup that you can cast far with it for bonito. Lure or cast-a-bubble and feather.

Consider the first trip as a "scouting" trip, with a learning curve. Don't expect a perfect trip as to gear. Nothing is like experience.

Some people bring big coolers with wheels to carry fish home. Inside is ice, though you can buy ice on the island, but it is a bit of walk.
Best to bring bait. Like squid and frozen peas. Shrimp for sheephead is good too. Worms produce small non-desired fish.

They keep some small bucket/rope for water to clean hands, etc. Towels, fillet knife, pliers for removing hook are essential.

A backpack for gear is better than hard case tackle box.

Have fun and enjoy yourself, no matter how the bite is.

Ken Jones

Staff member
This is the check list I made up many years ago for our multi-night Get Togethers. Probably more information than you need.

Catalina Checklist

This assumes an overnight stay and a primary interest in onshore fishing


1. Reservations for the Catalina Ferry.

2. Reservations for a hotel.

Accessories for a Catalina fishing trip:

1. Single suitcase (since you’ll have enough other fishing equipment).

2. Light, layered clothing. Typically nights and mornings can be cool at Catalina while daytime requires little more than shorts and a T-shirt or light shirt. Afternoon winds can be chilly at the Mole and may require a windbreaker, light jacket or sweater. Casual clothes for dining.

3. Spare undies and outies.

4. Extra socks (although it’s considered cool to go sockless on Catalina).

5. A poncho if there is any chance of rain.

6. Watch.

7. Reading glasses if a certain age.

8. Required pills and/or vitamins if a certain age.

9. Copies of insurance form, especially if a certain age.

10. A minimum of two credit cards and extra moola $$.

Miscellaneous items for the room and trip:

1. Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, comb, etc.

2. Cell phone charger.

3. C-Pap machine if you’re a Roncador (a snorer).

4. Writing pen and pocket note pad.

Miscellaneous Items needed for fishing:

1. Pier cart to haul the equipment from the ferry to the hotel to the GPP to the Mole to the hotel, etc.

2. Some type of tackle box or containers to hold equipment and a rod holder to protect the rods during the trip on the ferry.

3. Small bait cooler to keep live bait live, fresh bait fresh, and frozen bait frozen. This can also be used later to bring frozen fillets home.

4. Frozen ice packs (various types are available). Additional real ice can be obtained from the hotel’s ice machine or from Vons.

5. Zip-Lock bags or baggies for fish fillets.

6. Bucket or some type of container for all the miscellaneous “stuff” that will not fit in the normal “tackle” container(s).

7. Polarized sunglasses.

8. Sun screen, at least SPF 50 but the stronger the better.

9. Baseball cap with extension to cover the back of your neck or sombrero-type hats; something to give your face and neck protection from the sun.

10. A crushable hat or ski cap if fishing at night.

11. Hand warmer — only need during the winter or very windy conditions.

12. Gloves — a cheap pair of work gloves can come in handy.

13. Flash light and/or a headlamp if you intend to fish at night (several models are available).

14. A lighted magnifying glass (or lighted glasses) if you intend to fish at night and are over a certain age.

15. Camera.

16. Binoculars.

17. Snacks, i.e., Power Bars/Clif Bar energy snacks. A snack bar is on the Mole (although a little expensive) while restaurants are found on the GPP with a Vons not too far away.

18. Bottled water, soft drinks or an energy drink (only one energy drink).

19. Thermos — if planning to fish at night.

20. Tide book.

21. Copy of California Fish and Game Regulations booklet.

22. License—if you plan to fish shoreline areas.

23. Hand towels aka rags. Buy cheap ones at the Dollar Store, bring several, and throw dirty ones away at the end of each day if a little too smelly.

24. Hand cleaner or a baggie of baking soda. It can be used to wash the fish smell off of hands (to a degree).

25. Extra trash bags

Fishing Equipment

1. Fishing rods and reels for the following conditions:

A. Light tackle for the small to medium-sized species at the GPP and the Mole (kelp bass, sheephead, opaleye, halfmoon, rock wrasse, mackerel, jacksmelt, etc.

B. Specialized set-ups for opaleye?

C. Medium tackle for casting artificials for bonito/barracuda at the Mole.

D. Heavy duty tackle if seeking out the big ‘uns at the GPP and Mole; the big bat rays, etc.

E. Something to keep your rod from slipping on the railing at the Mole. This can be anything from towels tied around the railing to a rod holder designed for such railings

2. Line — Fluorocarbon is best given the clarity of the water. Braid is used by many as the main line at the Mole with a fluorocarbon leader. The braid will sometimes cut through the kelp that can be thick at the Mole. Bring extra line and/or fluorocarbon leaders.

3. Sinkers — A variety of sinkers; 1-2 ounce torpedo sinkers for the GPP; 1-4 ounce sinkers at the Mole depending upon rod/reel and fish being sought. Use torpedo sinkers or other varieties that will not get caught in the kelp.

4. Hooks — A variety depending upon the bait and fish being sought; Kahle hooks for ghost shrimp, small size 6 or 4 baitholder hooks for the perch-like species, larger baitholder or C hooks for other baits. A hook sharpener.

5. Lures — Bring a variety; lures are most often used for bonito and barracuda at the Mole. Bring bonito splasher rigs and flies (cast-a-bubbles, poppers, golf balls); spoons, i.e., Krocodiles and Kastmasters; casting jigs such as MegaBaits and Buzz Bombs; assorted swimbaits (leadheads w/Big Hammers or Fish Trap).

6. Bobbers — A variety can be used when concentrating on opaleye; slip floats with a long leader have proven to be the most effective.

7. Needle nose pliers for removing hooks and cutting line.

8. Sharp bait knife, fillet knife, and cutting board if planning to fillet fish.

9. In-water enclosed basket to keep fish alive while fishing. It must be tough and durable so that sea lions cannot break it open.

10. Drop net to bring large fish up to the pier. Never use a treble gaff if seeking out rays or sharks unless you intend to keep the fish.

11. Screwdrivers — A set of small Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers (SS).

12. Nail clippers — for trimming line (SS).

13. Tape measure.

14. Elastic thread — useful if bait is not staying on the hook

15. Club or rubber-headed mallet to subdue big fish if you’re fishing for big fish (rarely needed).

16. Fish scale and or grabber (i.e., Boga Grip).

17. Small bucket with a rope to get seawater.

Bait: Bring your bait with you. The only bait generally available at Avalon is frozen bait (although sometimes a boat with live squid will show up).

1. Live ghost shrimp — especially good from sheephead and opaleye.

2. Live saltwater worms (pileworms, blood worms, lug worms) — especially good on the smaller species (bass, rock wrasse, blacksmith, kelpfish, smelt, and salema but also good for opaleye at times.

3. Frozen peas — especially good for opaleye but have taken almost every one of the smaller species at the GGP and Mole.

4. Frozen anchovies or sardines —especially good for larger kelp bass but will also attract other species. Sometimes torn apart by smaller species.

5. Frozen squid — good for sheephead, ocean whitefish, bass and halfmoon. Better bait at night.

6. Frozen market shrimp — good for several species. Use a piece that matches your hook.

6. Chum and/or fish additives (fish attractants) can be used but is rarely needed. Those specializing in opaleye will throw out frozen peas or peas mixed with moistened bread or cooked oatmeal.