Sitting at my computer this December 2nd, it's hard to believe it's only...60 degrees, which makes writing this holiday gift piece a little tough getting in the mood. Sure we're all depressed as another fishing season may be winding down, but it's just a couple of short weeks before Santa climbs down the chimney with exciting gifts for the fisherperson. With the holidays in mind, I thought I'd pass along a few neat gift ideas for the angler who thinks he has everything and the wife or boyfriend who's sure he or she does!
Gift certificates from the local tackle shop or party is an easy present to pick up. It's effortless and the individual who receives the gift gets to pick out what they want. Actually, it's not a bad idea as many items like custom built fishing rods, tackle specific fishing reels and other "personalized" gifts are better left to the person receiving. As for gift certificates, don't overlook giving someone a chance to be there own captain for a day with a certificate from your local fishing station for a full day boat rental. Who knows, maybe they'll even invite you along for the fishing trip. A certificate for a favorite party boat is another great idea, it's easy to do by phone and they accept credit cards. There are other thoughtful gift ideas and let me pass a few of them along to you.
FISH ART. I may not be an art critic or know how to appraise Picasso, but I do know what I like in fish art and collectibles and it's a fast growing segment in the fishing tackle trade. I have been to the Trout Unlimited dinner and auction the last few years and have spent some decent green backs on this charity event, but the highlight of the evening is the art within the auction.
Some of my favorite pieces include "Brook Trout" by Lee Stroncek. This is a beautiful full color portrait of a brook trout in a natural underwater setting and looks great in my office.
Much of my fish art is in my office or living room and provides inspiration when "writer's block" takes hold. I can picture myself on the stream bank trying to drift a dry Adams or an ant pattern down stream, or maybe the flash of a big brookie darting out from a hiding place to attack a Micky Finn streamer. It really does get the juices flowing!
Some of others include "Three Dollar Bridge" by Richard Tumbleston. This stark, black & white drawing is a majestic view of an open plain within a mountain valley as an angler stands alone with fly rod, working a set of fast water on a sharp bend somewhere in the hills of Montana or Wyoming. "Journey" by Dave Chapple is another wonderful piece of fish art. You can find such pieces in catalogues, auction events, antique stores and such. One thing to keep in mind...collect the art because you like it, not because you think it will rise in value over the years. If it does...wonderful, but remember you have look at it everyday and you should enjoy it.
COLLECTIBLES. I'm sure may of you have received mail from the Danbury or Bradford Mints before, where they have plates as collectibles. You know the ones I'm talking about, the John Wayne, Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle or Micky Mouse collectible plates. Well these same "mints" have fish collectibles now in the form of fish sculptures. I have several in my collection, the rainbow trout, largemouth bass and soon to come is my newly ordered brown trout and they run only $69 to $89. These are hand-sculptured figures, finely painted in astute detail of fish in their habitat and usually stand 9" X 9" or somewhere in that area. They fit beautifully on a desk, dresser or mantle and really give a room that outdoorsman type feel. Both Bradford and Danbury are located in Connecticut. They are pretty good reasons not to throw out junk mail without looking at it first.
Another collectible piece I received one year was a "First Day of Issue" fishing flies commemorative from the US Post Office. It's a beautiful framed large stamp on an envelope of a Colorado "silk" Cachet with a Lefty's Deceiver stamp. It makes a wonderful piece for that flyfisherman or woman. Maybe your special loved one is lure collector. Antique lures can fetch pretty good prices these days and make a wonderful display in any room. There are so many to choose from and trying to make a complete set of any particular lure can take years, so you'll have no problem thinking of what to get him/her each year once you start. I received a few sculptured or paper mache' fishing Santa Claus' with fly rod in hand and creel over Santa's should ready to hit the stream. They make wonderful decorative pieces around the tree or dining room for the holidays. Collectibles, as with fish art, should be acquired because you like it not as an investment.
BOOKS. Cold winter days or nights make perfect reading opportunities and there is plethora of books available for the fisherperson. I have quite a few on my shelves that entertain me and help provide info for my writing. Some of the basic books everyone should have on their shelves begins with McClanes New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia. This book is published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston and is available at any bookstore. It covers everything and I mean everything! From what fish are in what states, to techniques, biological data, the list is endless and this 1,145 page book is very comprehensive...a great gift!
My good friend Stephen Sloan, who passed away in 2005 made many appearances on my TV show. His book "Fly Fishing Is Spoken Here" is a treasure chest of fly fishing info. This book consists of his radio interviews on fly fishing transcribed and edited into a book. It's an interesting read to say the least as he speaks with noted flyfishermen Ernie Schweibert, Bill Logan, Joe Hayworth and fishing Guides from Scotland and the Andes and even Jack Samson former editor of Field & Stream just to name a few. This is a limited edition print of only 750 leather bound copies, illustrated and with a chapter by James Prosek painter and author. The monies raised by the sale of this 750 limited edition run goes to the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum.
If you are not lure collection, the new hard cover "Collector's Encyclopedia of Creek Chub Lures" by Harold E. Smith M.D. is a real beauty. It offers updated identification and values of Creek Chub lures with a detailed history of the company and those behind it with over 1500 photos of some of the rarest Creek Chubs every produced. I have had the author on my radio show this week and it's fascinating how lure collection has become a major hobby around the world. You can order by E-mailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fishermen's Knots, Rigs and How to Use Them by Bob McNally is wonderful with tips and illustrations on knot tying, choosing the right rig, what knot to use and when to use it as well as wire or mono connections plus much more. McNally Outdoor Productions publishes the book and you can order in time for the holidays by calling 904-287-0917.
For you freshwater anglers the newest release is "Hooked," with a foreword written by the bass master himself Roland Martin. This hard cover, coffee table book is published by Simon & Schuster and begins with a description of the basics of angling dispersed with highly entertaining anecdotes and the secret world of the largemouth bass. For info on ordering call 212-698-2358.
Another good book is The Art of Big Game Cooking by Eileen Clarke and Sil Strung, published by Voyageur Press. I have used some of the recipes in this book with a big favorite of mine the venison stew. There are also some pretty tasty fish recipes too! Fishermen's Knots, Rigs and How to Use Them by Bob McNally is wonderful book with tips and illustrations on knot tying, choosing the right rig, what knot to use and when to use it as well as wire or mono connections plus much more. McNally Outdoor Productions publish the book and you can order in time for the holidays by calling 904-287-0917. For do-it-yourselfer's, Tackle Care by C. Boyd Pfeiffer is a classic with details on tackle care storage with lots of tips. It's the tackle maintenance handbook! It's published by Nick Lyons Books and should be easy enough to find in your local tackle shop or bookstore.
MY FAVORITES. One of the best gifts I received in recent years was a Stanley Thermos. This thermos can be run over by a truck with little damage! I've filled this thermos at 5 a.m. and still had a hot beverage at 3 p.m.! They come in quart and half gallon sizes and are well worth the price. A quality fillet knife is always a welcome sight. If you're hard on equipment, a good fillet knife is important. Not only will it last a long time, but the sharper and edge you can keep on quality steel, the safer a knife is. I prefer a wood handle to my knives, but the new plastic grips are more comfortable then they used to be, but it all boils down to personal preference. Including a sharpening device makes the set complete.
A hand help marine radio is another gift idea for the boater or surfcaster. It increases the safety aspect of our sport and the price of these has come down substantially over the years. Use your own imagination and perhaps Santa will leave something for you too! If any of our readers need any additional info on these subjects or other gift ideas, you can reach me at 516-889-6895 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or through the web site at www.thefishingline.com.