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Shopping for the Sportsman or Woman on Your List

If you’re not a fanatic yourself, I offer a few suggestions
      Christmas shopping for a dedicated angler is tough. 
      As editor Sandra Martin wrote a couple weeks back, “Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle regularly warns against giving tackle to anglers. Why? Because unless you’re as expert as they are, you’re vulnerable to making a choice they’ll scorn.”
     It’s true. Usually, and unfortunately, the shopper has little to no knowledge of the needs or desires of the sporting fanatic, and for good reason. Serious anglers have generally abandoned logic and reason. 
     Over the years I have gotten well-intentioned sporting gifts that I not only had no use for but also had no intention of being seen with. Some that come to mind are the TV-hyped Pocket Fisherman, though that might have been an ideal gift for a six-year-old — once they’ve had the hooks removed.
      Also avoid any number of “magical lures” also widely advertised on TV, especially those involving battery power. They have as much chance of catching a fish as using a Christmas tree ornament with a hook attached.
     However, I have found some items recently that are worth considering and even a few that most sportspeople might not have noticed.
      The first is a rather common-sense solution to on- and off-season tackle storage. With vertical holders for up to 12 rods plus shelving for spare reels and multiple boxes of lures, the Tackle Station is the ultimate garage-, basement- or mud-room storage unit.
      The next is a rather recent addition to the casting-reel category, a unit that has perfected ease of use. The new Shimano low-profile Curado DC 150 reel has integrated a computer chip that pretty much puts an end to the bird’s nests and line tangles that plague that reel type. If you know an angler who has been struggling with these complicated and difficult-to-use reels, giving this new model may just make you a hero overnight. They make that much of a difference.
       My next suggestion may seem minor until you understand the problem it solved. For years I have attempted to find an effective facial sunblock. Having tried many national brands advertised as waterproof, tearproof, sunproof and greasy-feel-free, I had consistently been disappointed in all categories, especially sunburn. Quite by accident last season, I came upon a small container of Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen that my Florida-based oldest son had left behind. After initially dismissing it as a Miami fashion statement, I tried it. Its effectiveness shocked me. With one application on a 90-degree-plus Bay day, full sun, on the water sans shade and with only a ball cap for protection, I was unscathed at day’s end. What’s more, my face felt grease- and ointment-free. 
       Topwater fishing lures are, figuratively a dime a dozen, though they cost many times that. However, one newcomer, the Chug Norris by Nomad Lures, deserves mention. Aside from being named after the first and most decisive mixed martial arts champion of all time, the lure has a number of features that
while not unique are unusual in that all appear in one lure. First it makes an outrageous racket on the water, the first requirement of a good topwater lure. Next it is aerodynamic and casts like a rocket, rarely tumbling (which can cause line fouling). The plug will swim well on top and even subsurface when not being popped, and it has an internal stainless steel plate and extra-stout hardware and hooks. It also features an ultra-hard outer finish that refuses scarring, fading and wear. It found instant popularity with Bay anglers and conquered more than a few oversized fish. No Bay lure box in the future will be complete without a few of these. Give one or a few to the angler on your list — and maybe get one or two for yourself. 
Fish Finder
      Alas, rockfish season closes this Saturday, December 15. After that date, catch-and-release is still an option ( But if you want to keep some fish for dinner, you will be limited to white perch, which many who catch and dine on consider superior to all others.
Hunting Seasons
Sika and whitetail deer, antlered and antlerless muzzle loader, thru Dec. 29
Sea ducks, limit 5, thru Jan. 11 
Ducks, thru Jan. 26
Snow geese, thru Feb. 2
Rabbit, limit 4, thru Feb. 28
Squirrel, limit 6, thru Feb. 28
Canada geese, Dec. 14-Feb. 2