Welcome to Panfish!

Part One Hundred-thirty one

Randy Fratzke

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

By Randy Fratzke

I know the story only too well (because I'm as guilty as anyone!) It's only a few weeks until the holidays and you still have a list of people that you'd like to give something to but you
    a.) Haven't got the time to go shopping;
    b.) Don't want to fight the crowds;
    c.) Don't have the money to be extravagant;
    d.) Don't know what to get them;
    e.) You didn't get anything from them last year so you don't figure you shouldn't get them anything this year;
    f.) All the above;
    g.) None of the above;
    h.) Some of the above;
    i.)___________________(Fill in the blank;)
Anyway, I thought I'd put together a few ideas to help us all out. Who knows, it may even work for me!

1. A book of maps and notes on good fishing holes. Maps are pretty inexpensive and some are even free. Stop down at your local DNR or conservation office and check it out. They usually have lots of maps (it's their business to sell licenses so they want you to know where to use them so you'll buy another one next year!) Buy an inexpensive binder and insert sheets and put the maps into the inserts. Annotate on the maps where there are good places to fish (if they complain that they didn't catch any at that spot you can always say that the fish were there last time you went! (make sure you look dumbfounded when you say this)). Also mark easy places to launch boats or float tubes, angry (or friendly) landowners to stay away from, pastures containing ornery bulls, etc. You may even want to make notes on what type of fish you caught and what flies you used to catch them (this will normally be taken as a challenge to see if they can do better). You can make it as fancy and thorough as you want or just leave it basic. Either way, it'll be appreciated.

2. Recycle some of your old tackle. There's probably a kid or an adult on the list that would really like to learn how to fly fish but is lacking even the basic equipment. Some of us have an older rod and reel sitting around collecting dust somewhere we no longer use because it's been replaced, sometimes several times over. Maybe the tip is broken off or the cork grip is worn a bit but basically, with a little bit of elbow grease, it's still a usable setup. Find it, clean it up, repair it, put a new coat of polish on it and give it as a gift along with a promise to take them out and teach them the sport. Who knows, you could wind up with a new fishing partner or be teaching the next 12-year-old A.K. Best how to fly fish. Besides, you'd be getting rid of some of the clutter in your tackle area, which in turn will probably make your spouse a little happier!

3. Build a display box of favorite or famous flies. Display boxes are inexpensive and can be picked up at almost any chain store hobby area. They come in different sizes and shapes. You can get them made out of wood, plastic, art board, etc. Some are glass front or Plexiglas or open front. Regardless, pick up a few small corks while you're there to mount the flies on then glue the corks and flies into the display box. Again, you can get fancy and stop at the fabric store and pick up a little velvet or satin cloth for the back ground (gingham is a little too busy I've noticed) or buy a plain wooden one and finish it to the persons decor, etc. The only question now is: "Where do I get the flies?" Open up your vest and start looking there first. Or go down to the local fly shop (or go online) and pick up a few, it'll only cost you a few bucks. An even less costly (and a bit devious) idea for a fly tier would be a hook display with as many different styles and sizes of hook as you could find (or afford) with a small title paper under each one. And, since you only need to put one of each hook in the display box and they come 25 to a pack your "stuck" having to use the rest for your own fly tying. a terrible thing to have happen! You could adapt the same idea for tippet material, lines, leaders, etc. (although I would hold the line on different sizes and weights of rods unless you were REALLY trying to kiss up to this person!)

4. Make up an Anglers Journal for a friend. I know you have a computer, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this column. So use the word processing program that came with it to build a form for a journal page (ok, so you might have to read the manual or get someone to help you figure it out, but swallow your pride, it's for a good cause). Include plenty of data items like date, time, air temperature, water temperature, hatches, number and kinds of fish caught and their pertinent measurements. Who they were fishing with, the size of their hat, whether they had on their lucky underwear, you know the ol' "who, what, where, when, why" stuff. Maybe leave an area for photos. Most programs will even allow you to import graphics so you can put pictures or cartoons on the pages, use your imagination. You can pick up 3 ring binders at most discount stores or office supply stores that have clear plastic pockets on the outside of the binders for title sheets. They're really inexpensive too, only about $3 to $5.00 apiece. Again, you can go from basic to extravagant, depending on how much time and money you want to put into it. Once you get the gift done make one up for yourself so you have some winter reading plus a handy reference for the next years fishing.

5. For the Fly Tier who has everything. Have you ever been to a furrier? (Just a quick note: don't mention this one to your wife if she's ever expressed an interest in a fur coat!) Normally, at least in most semi-urban areas of the country, there's a furrier. . . a business that makes fur coats for people who still have the guts (and money) to wear them. Stop in and talk with them and see if you can pick up some of the scraps for little or nothing. I know the local one sweeps the floor every night and just tosses it all in the trash (or at least used to). See if you can get a few scraps of fur that are hard to come by. Also check with a few of the local trappers and see where they sell their raw furs and contact that company and see if they have any odd or lower grade finished furs they'd be willing to part with. I mentioned it to a neighbor who traps and he took me over to his buyer who started handing me all kinds of stuff that he would have just tossed out because it wasn't up to grade, and it was all already tanned and finished. Put together a package of furs, pelts, feathers, etc. (sort of a rummage/remnant box) for the fly tier(s). Another source, believe it or not, is your local Good Will, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, or second hand clothing store. You can pick up an old fur collared coat for a few dollars, take off the fur, toss or recycle the coat and help a good cause all in one swift move! You might be surprised what people give to these places. While you're in there look around for old tackle, rods and reels. Who knows, you may find a nice antique cane rod like I did one day (still in its original rod sock and tube).

6. For the "Accident Prone" angler friend. Put together an emergency kit that fits under the seat of their vehicle, a pocket of their fishing vest, or in their glove box. Include minor medical supplies for scrapes and cuts (bandages, antibiotic ointments, sunscreen, dressings, hook remover, directions on emergency situations, survival guide, etc.) But don't stop there. There are also real emergencies to consider! Include one of those inexpensive rod tip repair kits (OK, so they're not wonderful but if it gets down to going home or keep fishing with a crappy, glued on tip which would YOU do?). Maybe include a wader repair patch kit, and, if they use a float tube, then include a tube patch kit. None of this stuff is expensive but how often do we really have it when we really need it? Buy a small plastic box that has a tight, water proof, lid that it will all fit into for a couple of bucks, wrap it up and "Viola!" The next time your friend stumbles, rips his waders, skins his knee and breaks the tip off his rod, you've just become the hero that saved the day! Of course there is the point of excess, at which time he will cuss at you every time he has to move the thing out of the way to get to his equipment. So keep it compact.

Ok, now it's your turn. Got any quick and inexpensive ideas? Put them out on the bulletin board area and help those of us who are "clueless" or "gift givingly challenged." Till next time, may you have fair weather, good fishing and the only thing that bites are on the hook at the end of your line! ~ Randy Fratzke

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