All I Want For Fishmas is…
Wow, 2016 has flown by and Christmas is approaching again and it’s time to select gifts for the fisher folks in your life. If you can get them to slow down a little from the great late fall fishing, perhaps you can get them to talk about something they’d like to have, but when the fishing is this good, that might not happen. Choosing a gift for many fishermen involves asking their buddies and keeping the receipt. You do the best you can and sometimes you hit a home run, but sometimes it’s a foul ball.
Here are some suggestions that should bring smiling faces come Christmas morning. There are some old standards that never really get old and some new things too. The list is divided into price ranges, but read them all as some things cross price ranges. Sure, it’s difficult to shop for the fisherman you believe has everything, but all of them have a wish list and this should give you a good starting point.
Fishermen need to help too. If you don’t want to be so obvious and tell someone what you want, you could print the appropriate section of this and leave it on top of all the papers on your desk or somewhere it is obvious. Family members need to be looking for hints and paying attention. Even if you get tired of hearing fishing tales, this is the time of the year to pay attention. Just like with their lure presentations, fishermen can be subtle. While websites are included for seeing the ideas and available options, most of these ideas should be available from local tackle dealers.
Less than $10
Inshore lures are the mainstay of this category. Lures can be gifts or stocking stuffers. Everyone is familiar with soft plastic lures and know they catch fish. Soft lures come in paddletail, shad tail, curltail, fluke, jerkbait, shrimp, and other shapes. I am a big user of shrimp shapes, especially when the water is hot or cold. Shrimp are easy to fish slow and in hot or cold water fish are usually moving slower, so the slow action gives them more time to be lured into biting.
Several popular soft shrimp include the Perfect Sinker from Betts Tackle (www.bettstackle.net), the EZ ShrimpZ from Zman (www.zmanfishing.com), the Savage Shrimp from Savage Gear (www.savagegear-usa.com), and Gulp Alive shrimp from Berkley (www.berkley-fishing.com). All of these shrimp will produce well and the Gulp shrimp include scent.
Scent definitely works to attract fish. Some lures include it and there are several options for adding sent to lures that don’t include it. Gulp lures have already been mentioned and Gulp scent is available in spray bottles. One of the most popular scents is Pro-Cure Scent Gel (www.pro-cure.com). There are a number of “flavors,” with shrimp, crab, mullet, menhaden, and inshore saltwater being preferred by many inshore guides.
Hard lures are the next step. MirrOlure (www.mirrolure.com) and Rapala (www.rapala.com) are popular brands that make topwater, suspending, and diving lures in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The MirrOlure She Dog, Top Dog, and Rapala Skitterwalk series work well for topwater lures, while the MirrOlure MirrOdine and Rapala X-Rap series include suspending and diving lures.
I am a big fan of weedless spoons because they let you fish cover and grassy areas you couldn’t otherwise. There are several brands and the Flats Intruder spoons from Cajun Thunder (www.thecajunthunder.com) are my favorites. Flats Intruder spoons are available in several colors and weights from 1/8 to 1-1/8 ounces and have a heavier hook than other spoons in the same size. Gold is my favorite color all around, but copper is also good and I’m becoming a fan of black over lighter color bottoms.
Cajun Thunder also makes Cajun Sleigh spinner spoons in 1/8 and 1/2 ounce sizes and several colors. These spoons have a single in-line spinner that creates flash and thump to attract fish.
Less Than $25
While not all offshore lures will fit into this category, this is where they start. It’s more difficult to pick offshore lures, but the folks in your fisherman’s favorite tackle shop will know what is hot and new and they should know his (or her) preferences. I like Ilander Lures from L&S Bait Company (www.mirrolure.com) and Jags and Jag-A-Hoos from Blue Water Candy. Blue and white or blue and crystal are the most popular colors, with green and yellow, pink and white, and purple and black right behind.
D-Funk wipes and sprays (www.d-funkwipes.com) are pretty new on the market, but fill a need fishermen have had since day one. D-funk offers a full line of wipes and sprays that remove and neutralize odors. There are a good handful of products in the D-Funk line that appeal to fishermen and many others.
Their most popular products with fishermen are Fish D-Funk, Cooler D-Funk, and Boat D-Funk, but Dog D-Funk and Gun D-Funk have a growing user base also. Fish D-Funk comes in two formulas. One is the standard that removes fish odor from your hands and the other is a fish catching formula that removes gas, oil, insect repellant, sunscreen and other scents from hands so they don’t get transferred to lures.
Every fisherman needs a fish grip and The Fish Grip by United Plastic Molders (www.thefishgrip.net)
is one of the best. The Fish Grip is molded of heavy duty plastic (and made in the USA) and holds up to salt water and salt water fish. It comes in a variety of colors and floats so it can be found if dropped. There is also a Fish Grip Jr. for smaller fish and/or smaller hands.
Every fisherman needs a good fillet knife and Buck Knives (www.buckknives.com) has been making then for a long time. The Buck Clearwater fillet knife is available in 6 and 9 inch blade lengths. The knife is flexible to work along bones and next to the skin and has a rubberized handle that is safe and comfortable for cleaning those big catches. An injection molded sheath with drain holes completes the package.
Instructional books and DVDs also make good gifts. Many fishermen won’t admit they like to read, but pour over articles when in the safety of their man cave or the bathroom next to it. There are a wide variety of instructional books and DVDs available and Reds by Dan Kibler (www.sportsmangear.com) has some excellent semi-local information on puppy drum. It was written for S.C., but the information crosses the state line as easy as the fish. The Sportsman’s Best Series from Florida Sportsman (www.floridasportsman.com) has been around for a couple of decades and includes a variety of topics.
Less Than $100
Attending fishing seminars and schools helps shorten the learning curve. Many consider the Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series (www.nationalseminarseries.com) the granddaddy of fishing schools and, after missing the area in 2016, there will be a Wilmington stop on January 14, 2017.
The Oak Island Recreation Department (http://oakisland.recdesk.com) hosts several excellent fishing schools each winter and spring. For 2017 there will be four that begin with a pair of all day saltwater fishing schools on February 4 and 18 that feature Capt. Jimmy Price and Capt. Jerry Dilsaver. In past years this was only offered once each year and it sold out, with people still wanting to attend, so two dates will be offered for 2017.
Two later events include a two-day, ladies-only event called the WAIT (Women Anglers In Training), with a classroom session on April 29 and fishing on April 30. The Oak Island Kayak Fishing School will be Saturday morning, May 6, with an optional on-water session that afternoon. Information on the fishing and kayak fishing schools is also available at www.captjerry.com.
Technical clothing, to stay cool and sun protected during the summer and for lightweight warmth during the winter, is a great Christmas gift for outdoorsmen. Breathe Like a Fish shirts by Gillz (www.gillz-gear.com) are made by fishermen to keep fishermen cool when it’s hot out – and they work.
Even in N.C. it gets cold, and especially so on the water. The Red Head Brand offered by Bass Pro Shops (www.basspro.com) is popular with outdoorsmen and includes excellent winter technical gear ranging from socks and thermal underwear to outer garments. Their XPS thermals and Red Head CWS (Cold Weather System) outer wear combine to defeat cold. I tested these to 27 degrees below zero last winter and was toasty warm. That should handle anything encountered in North Carolina.
Staying with clothing, I’d like to suggest a shoe as a Christmas gift. You may check out their line and prefer another style, but I really like the Fin from Soft Science (www.softscience.com). This is a lightweight, comfortable, lace up waterman’s shoe with drains, a mesh upper, and a slip resistant sole. It keeps my foot feeling good throughout a long day of fishing. Even better, Soft Science offers a 30 day exchange or refund if you’re not satisfied.
The heart of all Soft Science footwear is a proprietary material named Trileon™. Trileon is a lightweight yet dense closed cell co-polymer that is highly resilient, supportive and odor resistant. All Soft Science outsoles and footbeds are made from 100% Trileon. The fit and comfort comes from their Levelast™ Universal Comfort Platform, or UCP that puts the foot in a level position with no heel rise or drop, which supports the foot in a level and neutral position that allows the body to align properly.
Most good and better quality fishing reels are generally more expensive than this range, but the Star Reels Aerial Series spinning reels (www.seastriker.com/starrods) fit this range and are bargains. They are available in sizes 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000 and have the feel and durability of much more expensive reels.
A S2 Slider Net from Ego Fishing Gear (www.egos2slider.com) is an excellent gift guaranteed to make any fisherman smile. These nets are available in four extending handle lengths from a compact (18 inches expanding to 36inches) to an extra long handle that extends from 48 to 108 inches. There are three different net materials (nylon mesh, PVC coated mesh and rubber mesh) available in small to extra large hoop sizes and all nets and handles interchange. There is the perfect combination for any type of fishing and any fish your fisherman might be catching.
Engel Coolers (www.engelcoolers.com) make a line of light weight technical Cooler/Dryboxes and Live Bait Coolers in 13, 19 and 30 quart sizes that come in this price range. The Cooler/Dryboxes are available with or without rod holders and the Live Bait Coolers come with an aerator and lift-out net liner for easily getting bait out. These aren’t supercoolers, but Engel has those too if that’s what you want. These are well insulated with a hard liner and hard shell and will hold ice or bait for several days and will keep dry things dry. One of the sizes will fit most kayaks.
The Dry Case Company (www.drycase.com) from Hampstead, N.C. offers a variety of waterproof cases for phones, iPads and such and have been expanding into larger bags. Their waterproof backpack is just the ticket for anyone who may be out in the rain or spray while boating and fishing. It has several outer pockets, an inner pocket and can be rolled to remove the air or left full of air for floatation.
Less than $250
Soft coolers have a variety of uses and therefore have become very popular. Before buying one, be sure to check out the soft coolers from Dry Case (www.drycase.com) and Engel (www.engelcoolers.com). These are excellent coolers and have all the features that have made soft coolers so popular. The feature that moves them to the front of the pack is that they are backpack coolers. This is especially important to folks with active lifestyles as it allows hands to be free for carrying rods, reels, tackle and anything else deemed important.
Star Rods (www.seastriker.com/starrods) is a Morehead City, N.C. company that makes several different series of rods for everything from flounder to blue marlin. All Star Rods have extended warranties and some have lifetime warranties. My favorite inshore rods are the Star Seagis Series, which are extremely light weight, with exceptional feel, in light tipped, fast action rods that are surprisingly durable. Seagis Rods, which pricewise are in the middle of the Star lineup, are available in a split butt and a shorter cork but that is a favorite of kayak fishermen.
Fishermen looking for the ultimate in rods will appreciate the Star Rods Plasma Series. Plasma rods are available in everything from inshore to trolling and deep jigging models. They are made with the best components and are rods any fisherman will be proud to fish.
Boonedox (www.boonedoxusa.com) is a Thomasville, N.C. company that makes kayak, camping, and outdoor accessories. One of the problems kayak fishermen face is moving their kayaks when they are full of fishing gear. This problem is nipped in the bud by the Boonedox Landing Gear. Landing Gear is a pivoting wheel system that mounts to the deck of the kayak. Landing Gear pivots and locks down to roll the kayak and then back up to be out of the way for kayaking and fishing. If preferred, the wheels can also be removed in a matter of seconds and stored land side, then replaced just as quickly at the end of the adventure . Landing Gear is available with turf tires for hard terrain and high flotation tires for beach sand and soft ground. Both tires mount the same and can be easily switched.
Non prescription polarized eyewear fits this section and fishermen need polarized eyewear to protect from UV rays, see into the water and to cut the glare of low sun angles in the mornings and afternoons. There are numerous manufacturers offering a variety of lens colors that excel in different situations and a variety of price ranges. One comment heard often is to buy the best sunglasses you can afford and that’s difficult to disagree. Polarized eyewear is also available with readers, which are small inserts of magnifying glasses, that help see small fishing lines and hook eyes to tie knots.
More than $250
Fishermen that wear prescription glasses need UV Protection too. Prescription lenses are available with several versions of sun shading and degrees of protection. The simplest is non polarized lenses and these offer little protection except to reduce glare. The most protective are full polarized lenses and they are available in many of the colors of non prescription lenses.
Several years ago I was introduced to Vantage lenses by Transition Optical (www.transitions.com) and have been wearing them as my daily and fishing glasses since. These are the same folks who first introduced the transition lenses that were clear inside and darkened in sunlight. The superiority of the Vantage lenses is that they not only vary from clear to dark in color, but have variable polarization that increases as the lens darkens. They work well and would be an exceptional gift for any outdoorsman needing corrective lenses. If your favorite fisherman is considering polarized prescription glasses, it would be wise to inquire about Vantage lenses from Transitions.
Penn (www.pennfishing.com) has always made some of the premiere fishing reels available. In an uncharacteristic mistake, a few years back they discontinued their Slammer line of spinning reels. The public quickly let them know it was a mistake and this year they reintroduced the Slammer III spinning reels, which showed the same durability, plus a few improvements, like the IPX6 sealed body, a sealed drag system with Dura-Drag, and a 6 +1 stainless steel ball bearing system. The press and tackle buyers liked the new Slammer III series enough they voted it New Product Showcase Winner as the best saltwater reel. Slammer III reels are available in sizes ranging from 3500 to 10500.
Fishermen need to navigate and see what’s on the bottom and one of the Dragonfly line of GPS/Sounder combos from Raymarine (www.raymarine.com) should be just the ticket. Dragonfly units have 4 to 7 inch screen options and features a dual channel sonar with CHIRP DownVision and high frequency CHIRP fish targeting. Dragonfly can even stream live sonar to your Smartphone or Tablet.
Dragonfly units also come with GPS and a chartplotter to easily return to a hotspot while showing surrounding potential fishy areas on the chart. The screen is super-bright and easy to see and the unit is very simple and easy to operate. With multiple screen sizes, there is a Raymarine Dragonfly the right size for every application from kayaks to center consoles.
Unfortunately, when the fish are biting the weather isn’t always nice. In fact, there are times the weather is downright nasty – but the fish are biting so well you go anyway. There’s no need to be uncomfortable and you won’t be while wearing Huk Next Level Foul Weather gear from Huk Performance Fishing (www.hukgear.com).
The Next Level jacket and bibs begin with a lightweight, stretch, 3 layer breatheable shell that keeps all moisture out. Taped seams, waterproof zippers, a 3 piece articulated hood, hinged lock down cuffs, reinforced articulated knees, boot hem zippers and a vented collar combine to make a downpours seem like a mist. The final touch for safety is to add reflectivity at the shoulders, chest pockets and logos – just in case.
There are times you need 110 volt current and it isn’t readily available. You can change all that with a Xantrex Prowatt SW Inverter. Xantrex Technology (www.xantrex.com) is a world leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of advanced power electronic products and systems for the mobile power markets. The compact, easy-to-use and easy-to-install design of the PROwatt SW Series makes it ideal for use in commercial truck, RV and marine applications and it meets the UL458 marine supplement.
With True Sine-Wave output, the PROwatt SW Series can provide power for all types of electrical loads including, variable speed power tools, advanced electrical appliances, microwaves and much more. The PROwatt SW Series simply provides household AC power anywhere with options for 540, 900, and 1800 continuous watts. In addition to dual GFCI AC receptacles, the PROwatt SW Series include a USB connection for providing power to most USB chargeable devices.
Fishermen like to keep mementos of exceptional catches and fishing trips and Wilmington artist Steve Goione (www.stevegoioneprints.com) offers a very unique way to do this. Goione offers a remarque of a print commemorating the special day. The remarque is a small original piece of artwork drawn or painted on the print by the artist. This is a very special way to personalize the print and the personal touch greatly increases its value.
While they weren’t quite ready for production yet, the first drones designed expressly for fishing were displayed at ICAST this summer. The most innovate was the Aguadrone (www.aguadrone.com) and Aguadrone sales began in November – just in time for Christmas. The Aguadrone comes with a lot of options, including three switchable pods. One pod can carry and drop fishing lures, another carries a camera for pictures or video and the third links to a cell phone and sends fishfinder signals to the phone. The Aguadrone is waterproof too – and that’s a good thing for fishing.
The last thing to list here is a gift fishing charter. For many fishermen, this might be the best gift of all because their fishing buddy gets to go along and enjoy it with them. Fishing charters begin at a couple of hundred dollars for a kayak or wade fishing trip and go from there to $1,500 plus for a Gulf Stream trip. Wintertime is also an opportunity to travel to warmer climes for a few days of R&R and fishing. There are charter fishing opportunities listed on the Charter Fishing Directory section of this site and someone should offer just what you are looking for.
Good Fishing, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.