Selecting a fishing gift for anyone can be a challenging task, but this information will make your decision a little easier this holiday. A great gift will be one that hits close to home and is used, appreciated and enjoyed long it is given. Follow this article and you will have success this season with your fishing gift, even if you know nothing about the sport. The closer the store or organization is to your house, the better the gift will be.
1. Avoid National Stores
To that point, local is everything. Big box fishing stores and major retail stores lack local fishing gear and don’t match local waters. Even if they are close to your house, drive past these for a greater gift. Local stores know local waters. Giant national stores have a central home office and order based on national averages with only slight regional differences. These stores are also influenced by national product manufacturers and advertisers so they will stock anything they are getting great deals on or those products with the most financial support. A gift card to one of these is not the best choice.
2. Fishing Lessons
This might play out in your house. Fishermen leaves on Saturday morning before sun-up. Wakes up the house while getting ready. Some fishermen are back very quickly stating – “they’re not biting”. Lessons will work for them too. In other cases, the fishermen is gone all day long. Fishermen returns at the end of day with no fish, fishing was slow. You think to yourself, that couldn’t have been fun or we never have fish for dinner. I interrupt this paragraph to bring you this (Digression) I know. The running joke up in Door County, Wisconsin is that I have never brought back a fish meal in 20 years fishing there. I keep the myth alive with some catch -and-release these days – shhh don’t tell. It’s a vacation for me so I don’t get up early there and I don’t put that much effort into it. I rather enjoy the ridicule now as tradition there. (Back to the Lessons) For those of you who know anglers who have not returned with fish in years, you can get them some lessons. Local clubs like the Midwest Anglers & Chicago Fishing School offer educational seminars, on-water demos and individual lessons. Hit Google in your area for local clubs and purchase lessons for them. If you are near Chicago, you can purchase fishing lessons at Midwest Angler If you have a club, I encourage you to set up a school and teach fishing!
3. Fishing Club Membership
Not the national fishing club you see on trucks -that is just a bunch of ads – find your local fishing club and purchase your angler a membership or renew for them. In most cases, this is a $20 – $45 annual membership and a gift that will keep on giving! They sometimes have shirts or hats you can purchase along with the membership certificate. Be warned though, these are putzy old men, they might not have a very good “actual certificate” you can hand over as a gift. You might need to get out the computer or get a very nice card and hand make a certificate for presentation’s sake.
4. Local Wise Men Stock the Myrrh
By Wise Men, I am referring to the local bait shop owners. These tackle gurus scratch out a living season to season for a reason. With much smaller shops and no advertising budget, they must stock the good stuff, the items that catch fish. What they lack in space, they make up for in years of stocking their shelves with items requested from their millions of angler-interactions. Your pond close to home is their expertise and the gear on the walls of Roy’s Bait Hut – well, they match those waters perfectly. This can’t be said for the miles of shelves at G Mart or One Fish Pro Shops… Head to your local store and a gift certificate from that place will be gold dust to the angler you are gifting. You might have to Google-it, “tackle shop” followed by your zip code will reward you with the location of your local store. Give them a call regarding gift certificates.
5. No Myrrh? Try Frankincense
Ok, I am getting a little goofy with the headlines. If they don’t sell gift certificates, you need to get creative at your local shop. Go there and ask them to put together a “local pond/river” kit. Tell them your budget and use the local expert to assemble the best selection of products every assembled. While you don’t know a Hula-Popper from Betty Crocker, you will come off looking like a fishing Martha Stewart when you deliver this gift. No one has to know you had help from the local tackle geniuses. The best fishing gifts are found in the bait stores.
6. Tacky Fishing Joke Gifts
This headline has no pun – you’re welcome, but it might be just the gift you were looking for – a funny one. Sure there are online shops with catchy sayings (pun intended) screened on their shirts, mugs, hats. Nothing can match the tacky gifts that can be found at the real mccoy – the Bait Hut, and they know it. You will find some legit unsellable items hidden in the nooks and crannies of these gold mines. If humor is your goal, head to the minnow trough and take a left. Look up on the highest shelves and in the corners for the good stuff. Out-of-date trucker hats with typos, girls & fishing sayings, plaques – pirates don’t have as much treasure as is buried in tiny tackle stores. Keep it to yourself as when you are shopping you don’t want to tick off the purveyor of said store, prior to unearthing your treasure. Some owners – like Joe- at Joke’n Joe’s, for example have no outward sense of humor. The perch might think they’re funny but I’ve only seen him grumpy.
7. Fishing Magazines
In a pinch, a subscription or two to a national magazine can make a nice 12-month gift at a reasonable price. When calling these to order, you might check if they are already a subscriber and either try another magazine or renew their current membership. Great magazines to purchase include: Fishing Facts, In-Fisherman and American Angler.
Fishing Facts has nice articles and tackle reviews and is a great choice if you are on a budget for your gift! It sometimes comes with free tackle too. In-Fisherman will cost a little more but is packed with diagrams and graphic illustrations and is a great choice as well. American Angler is for the fly fisher who wants to study recreating bugs and fooling trout into biting. If the gift you are purchasing is for a fly fishermen, you know them to be a bit odd and into this – this is the way to go. I love fly fishermen – they are all a bit weird in a good way.
8. Super-Emergency Last Minute
Ok, this is where I save your bacon with the last-minute emergency gift. Even if you are a vegan or your religion prohibits eating pork, this will save more of your bacon. If you are a last-minute shopper, I guess I should have put this at the top of the article and not had these goofy intro sentences to slow you down. OK! Menard’s, Lowe’s, Home Depot. Find the nearest that is open late on the way to your gift-giving and there you will find the following: Tool/Tackle Storage, Small Clippers, Warm Hats, Baseball Caps and even fishing-related gifts. Last time I was in Menard’s they had fishing bird-houses, a Christmas (or holiday) village with a bait store, light-up ice fishermen and more. In their paint section they have steel signs that are perfect for the shop, garage or fishing work bench.
When we go fishing, we usually have a favorite place to either pick up the sandwiches or to stop and get a hot meal on the way home. A gift card to one of these places will be a very welcome gift. If you have the energy, skill and ingredients, you can make us cookies, brownies or bars for fishing. Whether on the boat or on shore, home-made treats are always welcome. Someone on a bass show once described fishing 8 hours in a padded bass boat as a “marathon-like” effort. While I think the running might be more of a strain- battling the elements on shore or from boat in Spring & Fall can sap your energy. Your home-made treats might not keep long enough to get us outdoors, so you might need to give a certificate for that which we can redeem later. Then again, there’s always Arby’s.
I hope these gift suggestions help you out with your shopping on any holiday. Do have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Wonderful Kwanza, or just celebrate and have a great New Year!