A gift guide for the avid angler
Many anglers spend the winter months dreaming and scheming.
Dreaming about the ones that got away.
Scheming about how they'll change their plan of attack when the snow melts.
But between visions of sockeyes, kings and cohos dancing in their heads, some fishermen forget to save up for the little things to prepare for next season.
Ask 10 fishermen what they want for Christmas and you'll likely get 10 different answers. Aside from a new boat, a shiny new rod, or that fancy new reel, many of us end up spending a lot of money on the little fishing essentials to support our habit just months after St. Nick comes for a visit.
Thankfully for family members, many of those items make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. But, some of those shopping for the fishermen in their life simply don't know what a fisherman wants or needs.
It's best to leave choices about big-ticket items -- rods, reels, line, etc. -- up to the individual angler, as each one has a different opinion about what is or isn't the best gear.
So when shopping for fishermen, think along two fronts -- experience and support.
A seasoned Kenai Peninsula fisherman likely already has the tackle box, waders, and other clothes he or she needs to navigate the multiple seasons and runs. So think about accessories.
Brian Richards, owner of Wilderness Way in Soldotna, suggested an LED headlamp that can be used for the hours before or after the sun sets, or in the shadows of the Peninsula's tall trees.
"Those are always kind of a big one and it never hurts to have more than one," he said. "In case you forget one (then) you've got one in your backpack, one in your truck."
Richards also suggested a new dry bag or dry box, perhaps from the fisherman-friendly OtterBox brand.
"They make all different sizes of OtterBoxes and you can stick anything in there you want to keep dry," he said.
It makes good sense for a fisherman to tuck a wallet, phone, car keys, compact camera or other gadgets into a waterproof container before heading out to the lake or river. But they might not always think of it, or would rather spend their money on a couple more sockeye rigs.
If an angler is new to the area, perhaps they would like to share their experiences with family and friends -- perhaps more than just what a photo can capture.
Scott Miller, owner and manager of Trustworthy Hardware in Soldotna, suggested Hunter Specialties i-Kam. The device is both a pair of sunglasses and a point-of-view video camera.
"They are not real obtrusive or anything, they just look like regular sunglasses and they've got a little camera right in between the eyes," he said. "It is seeing what you are seeing."
For those more experienced anglers with more gear, an organizational rod rack for the garage might either be a handy solution, or a well-placed hint from a perturbed significant other.
"It's fairly inexpensive and it's a plastic rod rack that stands up just like the ones we have in the store and that's a neat little item," Miller said.
Also, there's nothing wrong with loading up a fly box with an assortment of flies for fly fishing or salmon catching.
"That's a really popular stocking stuffer for the fisherman and in fact I just had a lady that came in this morning and got a fly box and filled it full of coho flies for sockeye fishing next summer," Miller said. "So he's ready to go."
Dave Atcheson, author of "Fishing Alaska's Kenai Peninsula" and a fishing instructor at Kenai Peninsula College, said a good fisherman is also never far from a good fillet knife.
But equally important is a nice hook hone to sharpen potentially dull lures and flies.
"People lose a lot of fish because their hooks get dull and they don't check them," he said. "... It is something people don't carry on them or don't have very often, but it is a good item."
Those experienced anglers who have a cheechako fisherman in mind might also consider constructing a sockeye starter kit with coho flies, Russian River flies, yellow and pink glow yarn, hooks, leader line, split shot weights, swivels -- and a copy of the local fishing regulations.
Here are some other easy, and fairly inexpensive gift ideas for the fisherman on your list:
* Topographical map.
* Knife sharpener.
* Polarized sunglasses
* Set of carabiners.
* Fillet glove.
* Shoe Goo repair glue for leaky rubber boots or waders.
* Large fingernail clippers for cutting line.
* Pocket sized sunscreen containers.
* CamelBak or other strap-on hydration systems.
* Bear spray.
Brian Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Have a favorite fishing photo? A story about the one that got away? How about a tasty recipe for preparing your catch? Share them! Email them to email@example.com, or visit www.ExploreTheKenai.com/tightlines and look for the links to submit items.
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Tight Lines publishes on the third Thursday of the month from October through April, and will return as a weekly feature in May.