Swap-out rod holder

An alternative solution for those in need

By Cliff Maurand

Over the course of the last couple of years, I've had to deal with a dilema of sorts. One of my favorite activities while camping on Hatteras Island, is to head down to the beach and do some surf fishing. Because they allow vehicular traffic on the beach, and the sand is soft and easy to get stuck in, I bought a 4 wheel drive vehicle just for this purpose. My vehicle of choice was the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a great vehicle, but it came up short in one area!

The Jeep Grand Cherokee that I drive out onto the beach with, has a plastic front bumper. Worse yet, directly behind the plastic is a piece of custom formed styrofoam, and then a thin metal backing plate. Because of this, I was unable to mount a fishing rod holder onto my front bumper as other fisherman in the area have done for many years.

I did aquire one though, before I found out that it wasn't going to work on my Jeep. For a while, I just struggled along. First, I just disassembled the poles and packed them into the back of the Jeep each time I went to and from the beach. This turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. Then I started to tie them to the roof racks, this worked pretty good, but was still more trouble than it was worth.

About that same time, I had built a fishing rod holder on the tongue of my Pop-up camper, but it was made of wood and plastic, didn't hold up too well. And it only worked while the trailer was in tow. To head for the beach, I still had to tie them to the roof racks.

Last fall I did a little brain storming, came up with a great idea, and went about finding parts to accomplish the job. What I came up with, was a way to utilize my fancy rod holder, without having it mounted to the front plastic bumper. Instead, I built it into a trailer hitch piece that plugs directly into the hitch receiver. Now I had a piece that could be used on the Jeep. But there was still the problem of transporting the poles when the trailer was in tow. The solution was simple, I installed a receiver on the trailers tongue.

Now I can transport the poles on the tongue when in tow, and then move the rod holder to the Jeeps trailer hitch for the daily runs to the beach. Best part about this, was there were no holes to drill into the trailer frame, this way it didn't create a problem with the warranty on the frame. And if I decide to sell the trailer, I just unbolt the receiver and it's gone without a trace!

By the way, I aquired the receiver and hitch fitting free, all I had to do was buy the frame bolts and a can of spray paint. I had a mechanic friend of mine take care of the welding for me! It only took me about one hour to install this.

Beach Driving Tips

Before you attempt driving on the beach, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, you don't want to attempt this if your not driving a four wheel drive vehicle. The sand is very soft, and in many places quite deep. Even seasoned veterans with four wheel drive can get stuck here. And once your stuck in the sand, it is generally a chore getting free again. Tow trucks on the beach are rare, and if you're lucky enough to find one, be prepared to lay out plenty of cash for the services. Many travelers on the beach are usually willing to help you, but if your buried to the axle's there will be little that can get you free short of a winch.

Air down those tires! The first rule of driving in soft sand (aside from making sure your in a 4x4 that is), is to reduce the air pressure in your tires. This has a two part effect on your off road vehicle. The primary benefit is additional traction, where the softer tires create a wider and longer "foot print" and the tire works more like a tank tread than a circular object. This in turn also helps the transmission and transfer case, by reducing the stress on these systems. Reducing air pressure to 18-25 PSI (depending on the terrain) is usually recommended.

Bring a shovel! The sand can get very soft, deep, and treacherous. If you do find your self bogged down, there are a few things you can do to try and free yourself. The first thing you should try is backing up. By backing through the same tracks you went in with, nine times out of ten you will free right up. Another little trick is to let some more air out of the tires, thus making the tire "foot print" a little larger. When all else fails, you're going to have to dig your way out! So make sure you bring a shovel along, those small folding Army shovels from the military surplus stores are ideal.

Other items... Be prepared for everything! Having your vehicle equipped with tow hooks is highly recommended. Take along tow straps or chains, and a few pieces of wood (small pieces of plywood work well). Two way communications like a CB Radio or a Cell phone can be very handy too! If your a real novice at this, you should first try this with a friend, driving in pairs with two vehicles.

Tread Lightly

Pack it in
Pack it out

Stay off the dunes!


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