Ladies have assured me they are much better than men at taking hints. Leaving the magazine open to this page is enough to get their attention, and underlining or circling an item is almost a guarantee it will be under your tree or in your stocking on Christmas morning.
Less than $10
This category is real simple - lures. Lure choices can range from old favorites to the latest new offerings. For inshore fishermen, they can never have enough MirrOlures, Rapalas, D.O.A. shrimp, Betts Mullet Spins, Saltwater Assassin grubs, Bomber Ba-Donk-A-Donks, Z Man crabs, Sea Striker jigs, rigs and the like. Be sure to include topwaters, suspending lures and sinking lures.
Other options are basic terminal gear and repair kits. One of the best is the Hook Kit from MirrOlure, www.mirrolure.com. It contains screws, screw eyes, split rings, hook hangers and different size and color hooks to keep a favorite lure catching.
Up to $25
I'm going to call this the reading section this year. One of the best and easiest gifts to give is a subscription or renewal to North Carolina Sportsman magazine. Subscription terms begin with a year and offer increasing discounts for multiple years. This brings great hunting and fishing stories, fishing forecasts, plus numerous tips, tactics and equipment suggestions to your favorite sportsman's preferred reading location.
Several good books are available for North Carolina fishermen and can be found in many tackle shops, on Amazon.com and through the authors' website.
North Carolina's Ocean Fishing Piers; From Kitty Hawk to Sunset Beach, by Al Baird (www.ncfps.com), is a history of the fishing piers that once lined the coast and a salute to those that remain.
Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolinas, by Jeffrey Weeks (www.surfandsalt.com), is chock full of short, concise chapters about every aspect of inshore saltwater fishing, including a long section of recipes.
Fishing North Carolina, by Mike Marsh (www.mikemarshoutdoors.com), is a fishing how-to book listing North Carolina waters from the mountains to the sea.
It is more than a year old now, but Ty Conti, publisher of North Carolina Sportsman (www.northcarolinasportsman.com) released a game and fish cookbook, Cooking on the Wild Side in the fall of 2010. I believe most outdoorsmen will appreciate the recipes. and I can personally vouch for a couple I contributed.
Reds: South Carolina's top 9 redfish destinations, and exactly how to fish them year round is a book that came out this year about fishing for redfish by Dan Kibler, managing editor of North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman (www.southcarolinasportsman.com). While it highlights locations across the border in South Carolina, the techniques will work for puppy drum north of the border.
Up to $50
The ZTR Series (Zero Tangle Reels) from WaveSpin Reels, www.wavespinreel.com, are an excellent deal at this price. These are economical versions of the two smallest WaveSpin spinning reels that were designed by the Bass Professor, Doug Hannon, to eliminate tangles. The ZTR Series reels include a "No Tangles Guarantee" and include the patented WaveSpin spool, four double-sealed stainless bearings and the same drag system as the more expensive reels for less than $50. WaveSpin also has a handful of reels with 8-plus-1, double-sealed stainless ball bearings that sell for less than $100.
Having a flag for daytime visibility and a light for nighttime visibility are especially important to kayak fishermen. Yak Attack, www.yakattack.us, offers two versions. The VisiPole and VISICarbonPro combine lights mounted on lightweight flag poles and increase visibility at all times. The VisiPole is a single-section version that begins at around $40 and allows adding the flag of your choice. The VISICarbonPro is slightly more expensive, but is a lighter, multiple section pole and light that includes an orange flag with a pocket to store it in.
Waterproof cameras are becoming very popula,r and while there aren't any in this price range, there are several brackets to mount them. I like the Panfish and Panfish Portrait brackets from Yak Attack, www.yakattack.us, and have found them easy to mount on a kayak or full size boat to allow keeping hands free and getting pictures. If your favorite local kayak shop doesn't carry Yak Attack products, you can order them direct from their website.
Up to $100
Numerous fishing schools and seminars are held throughout North Carolina every winter. I see even fishermen who I consider accomplished in the audience at many and used to ask why they were there. After being told regularly that they can always learn something, I believe them and appreciate their attendance. These schools typically range from $50 to $100.
Capt. Jimmy Price and I will do a couple of fishing schools for local Recreation departments across the state in association with Sea Striker and those dates can be found at www.captjerry.com. North Carolina Sportsman magazine will hold a fishing school in Wilmington on March 17; more information is available at www.northcarolinasportsman.com. Saltwater Sportsman magazine will also host its National Seminar Series (www.nationalseminarseries.com) in New Bern on Jan. 14.
Stick It Anchor Pins (www.stickitanchorpins.com) are an inexpensive and durable alternative to anchors for holding position in shallow water. They are available in a 5.5 foot version just for kayaks and then in 7- to 10-foot versions for boats. With the growing popularity of standing to fish in kayaks, many kayakers are using the longer lengths and reversing them so the T-handle is down and using them as push poles.
Star Rods (www.seastriker.com/starrods) is a division of Sea Striker, who has developed a reputation of producing quality products for a fair price. Star Reels will be coming soon and indications they will continue this philosophy by adding Star combos in the Aerial line beginning at less than $100.
Up to $250
I like to hunt and target shoot and have found that laser sights help me get on target faster, especially with pistols. LaserLyte (www.laserlyte.com) makes a full line of laser sights for pistols and long guns that range from $99 and up. The laser range on the models for larger pistols and rifles is plenty enough to use them for hunting.
I have installed, shot and zeroed LaserLyte laser sights on a Ruger LCP and a Smith and Wesson Sigma, and it was simple and straightforward. In just a few minutes, the holes in the target appear where the laser is pointing. The laser sight makes it easy for even an inexperienced person to become accurate quickly.
An additional plus is there is also an intimidation factor if the gun is used for personal protection. Criminals and other bad guys know what it means when there is a laser red dot on them, and it makes them anxious to depart the area. Certainly, we all hope there in never a need to pull or shoot a gun in self defense, but if you must, a little intimidation and a lot of accuracy go a long way.
Star Rods (www.seastriker.com/starrods) is releasing the Seagis Series of rods between now and Christmas. These rods will begin at $139 and are super lightweight at four to five ounces. They feature Fuji K-series tangle-free guides and a unique split reel seat to go with the split grip.
Every year, I suggest polarized eyewear, and at some time during the year, several fishermen take the time to thank me. Polarized eyewear is a necessity for all fishermen and hunters, but many just will not spend their money until they have seen (and caught) a fish they couldn't see otherwise. It is up to the families to get them started down the right path.
The newest thing in polarized eyewear is adding readers (magnifying lenses) at the bottom of the lenses to help with tying knots and such. Ono's Trading Company (www.onostradingcompany.com) pioneered this a few years back and now offers many varieties including prescription lenses with the reader lenses. Numerous other eyewear companies have added readers also. They are just the thing for older tired eyes that need a little help with small leader and flyline tippet.
More than $250
This is the land of specialized gifts. Offshore rods and reels, custom tuned fly rods and reels, marine electronics and more. These might require a very specific description that is more than a hint.
Kayaks are in this level and come in a variety of models and sizes. This would probably require some input from the recipient. Remember that Hobie (http://www.hobiecat.com/) and Native (www.nativewatercraft.com) offer fishing kayaks that use pedal propulsion to allow hands to be free for fishing. There are also electric powered kayaks available from these companies and from Ocean Kayak (www.oceankayak.com). Note that electric kayaks must be registered as boats.
Power-Pole (www.power-pole.com) is continually updating their electric-hydraulic shallow water anchoring systems. This fall they added a 10-foot version for fishermen who found the original 6- and 8-footers weren't always enough. New motors that are quicker and quieter, plus wireless controls are also available.
Motorguide (www.motorguide.com) and Minn Kota (www.minnkotamotors.com) make a variety of electric trolling motors for every application from canoes and kayaks to small center console and large bay boats. There are stern, bow, wireless and GPS controlled models.
Guided fishing and hunting trips are always good gifts for sportsmen. At the back of this magazine is a listing of many fishing and hunting guides and lodges. You can also find a listing of guides and lodges at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
A Final Suggestion
When I can't come up with a specific item that will be best for my buddies, I advise their families to buy/suggest something that is new, looks exciting and they think they (or I) will have fun helping him use or learning how to use. This philosophy works amazingly well. If anyone receives a gift they need help using or a trip where they would like a camera along, just give me a call.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!