Weekend Angler: Fishing Gifts (A Black Friday Blog for Saturday and Beyond)

By D. Keith Bartlett on November 24, 2012 from Weekend Angler via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It’s that time of year again…already. Is it my imagination or does every year go faster as we age? I’ve decided to accept what the calendar’s telling me and get in the spirit of the season. I’m a big fan of holidays that involve lots of good food, family and friends, and all-day sporting events on television, and Thanksgiving is a personal favorite. However, over the course of my lifetime Thanksgiving has transformed. It’s still the same wonderful food fest in the company of loved ones and early till forever ball games but somewhere in recent history the day following Thanksgiving was given a dark, ominous name that’s cast a woeful shadow over the entire Holiday; Black Friday. The name is enough to raise suspicion among the uninitiated, if not an eyebrow or two, but the person who first named it that must have been a visionary with an extraordinary understanding of the human experience. Outside the most hardcore shoppers, or those willing to make any sacrifice to save two cents on the most common item, Black Friday is a befitting name. I’m among the list of people who refuse to pitch a tent in Wal-Mart or anyone else’s parking lot so I can race through an angry, determined crowd to fist fight over a child’s toy, although I have the highest respect for the love and dedication of those that do. There has to be a better way. But I because I haven’t come up with it either, I thought I’d try to help the only way I know.
If you have a husband, son, daughter, son-in-law, child or other family member on your Christmas shopping list that loves to fish, let me make a few suggestions that may help you surprise and make them smile on Christmas morning. To make the best decisions about buying for the angler on your list, there are some things you should know. You may already know the answers but if you must ask, you won’t be giving away a thing. First, it’s helpful to know the person’s skill level. Newcomers to fishing have more needs than veterans with piles of rods and reels and boxes full of secret lures. Second, what type of fishing do they do and enjoy most? It could be troll for trout, wade in rivers for smallmouth bass, tournament fish for bass or sit along shore and wait on trout or catfish to try jerking a rod in the lake. You shouldn’t have much trouble getting answers to this question because most anglers enjoy talking about fishing as much as doing it. Listen carefully and you’ll be surprised what you learn from this single question. If they start grilling you about why you asked, act bewildered and tell them someone asked you about buying them a fishing gift. Just act hopelessly trapped and totally clueless; if you need more help on feigning ignorance, email me, I have a black belt in that one.
For newcomers and most recreational anglers, basic equipment is always a good choice. A new tackle box or tackle bag would be a great way to help them get organized and encourage interest. And dedicated anglers at any skill level never have enough tackle boxes. Tackle boxes made from hard plastic are inexpensive and versatile if you choose one with various size compartments. Most plastic tackle boxes run from $15 up to $50 or more for suitcase size models. However, if you’re willing to spend a little more, the soft-sided models are more lightweight for their size, can be customized by adding or replacing small storage boxes and hold a list of basic supplies well. Also, I’m sure any lady anglers on your list would prefer the soft-sided models because it’s the same concept as a purse; lots of capacity with several smaller storage compartments and a large central interior. But don’t mention that to the guys on your list because they see them as multidimensional storage units for toys. If you want to add a few extra surprises to either style, a pair of needle-nose pliers, fingernail clippers to cut line, a small box of reusable split shot in various sizes, small barrel swivels and replacement fishing line are can’t-lose gifts. Both Stren and Trilene make high-quality monofilament fishing lines, good choices in line for any type of fishing, and are available anywhere fishing tackle is sold. Choose 4- or 6-pound test for trout anglers, 8- or 10-pound test for bass anglers and 14-through 20-pound test for those who chase big fish and you can’t go wrong. One hundred to three hundred yard replacement spools of line are inexpensive and more than adequate.
If you’d like to be a little more creative and go the extra mile for someone special, you can also add a lure or two. Make good choices and the angler who receives them will be impressed with your efforts. To make the right decisions you must know what kind of fishing the receiving angler enjoys most and there are many ways to catch fish. So let me make some recommendations for a couple of the most popular types of fishing in West Virginia waters. For those who cast or troll for trout, Joe’s Flies Short Strikers with a Potomac Coachman, March Brown, Muddler, or any color Wooly Worm with a red tail fly pattern are great choices, made locally in Nutter Fort and available at any major retail store that sells fishing supplies. Add size 5 or 7 Original Floating Rapala Minnows in Gold, Silver or Brown Trout colors to increase variety.  For anglers who fish rivers for smallmouth bass, Rapala X-Rap minnows in 1/4-ounce sizes in Gold, Silver and Olive Green are top choices. Rebel Pop R’s in 1/4-ounce sizes with white or silver bellies and any color back increase variety and are favorites among smallmouth anglers for topwater fishing in rivers. If your favorite angler enjoys a different kind of fishing, you can ask for a recommendation on best choices from a sales associate at a local fishing supplies retailer. And while you’re there, a new fishing license is another excellent gift idea. Licenses for the 2013 season should be available soon after December 1st.
For the most eager to learn or advanced anglers on your list, a copy of my book The Weekend Angler’s Guide To Good Fishing would make a good gift. It explains many of the things every angler needs to know such as how to find good fishing, how weather affects fish and fishing, how to choose rods and reels and how to make fish bite. Also, there’s a chapter on choosing and buying lures including several that are effective choices for various fish in West Virginia waters. My book also covers some of my favorite fishing opportunities during each of the four seasons so it’s a good source of information for year-round anglers. Feature stories include late-winter, early spring trolling for trout, summer smallmouth bass in rivers and reservoirs, fishing for largemouth bass in small lakes and ponds, and many other popular types of fishing. These and other feature stories provide all the information anglers need to duplicate the success I describe including tackle, line and lures used, lure colors, methods of presentation and other important details. If you’d like to preview my book, there’s a “Look Inside” feature available at Amazon.com where you can review the table of contents, randomly look through the book and see several sample pages. If you’d like a closer look, you can look through or buy a copy at The Country Peddler at 202 East Main Street in downtown Bridgeport. Pick up a copy early, find the feature story that covers the type fishing your favorite angler enjoys most and you’ll find a wealth of gift ideas from rods and reels to fishing lines to lures and other equipment at a level of detail that will permit you to describe and buy them anywhere they’re available.
I hope I’ve helped make Black Friday a little less black for some of you. Anglers can be difficult to buy for because their basic equipment list looks endless and many appear to have everything. I realize it’s a problem not limited to anglers but I’d be a poor source of advice for those with golf, bowling or crocheting enthusiasts on their Christmas shopping lists. I can only do so much. However, I would like to add that I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your friends and family. And the best of luck to all the Christmas shoppers out there!

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