It’s easy to buy for a golfer.
Unless you’re buying for a low-handicap ace or mid-level sandbagger who thinks he’s better than he really is, you go to the middle rack on the golf-ball aisle and buy a dozen of those mid-priced disposables.
Anglers aren’t so easy.
So if you’re inclined to go Christmas shopping for the fisherman or woman in your life, be careful. There are nearly as many fishing strategies as there are anglers, and all come with their own combination of hooks, swivels, split-shot, egg sinker, leader, beads and so many other possibilities you’ll find at the tackle shop and/or Bass Pro.
You might buy hooks that are the wrong size or design. The wrong pack of floats. Or, on the big-ticket side, a bait-casting reel when a spinner was called for. A depth-finder when he wanted (and needs) a fish-finder.
An Evinrude for a Yamaha guy, you know?
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“I wouldn’t even dare unless it was someone that I’ve fished with enough to be certain what they use,” says Capt. Jeff Patterson, a local guide. “For example, I could pick out lures for some of my buddies that I know they would use.
“If I were to buy something for a gift, it would definitely be lures. But some people only use live bait, so that’s another issue.”
As much as you might hate taking the easy way out, you might need to do just that.
That’s right, a gift certificate.
“All anglers have their own unique style or baits they like and/or colors they like to use,” says local guide and tournament fisherman Capt. Billy Pettigrew. “If you don’t know what that person likes or know their fishing style, it’s hard to buy them what they want or would use, so a gift certificate can go a long way.”
Your nearest bait-and-tackle will accommodate you. And be happy to do so. They’re good like that.
“I think the perfect gift is a gift certificate,” says Craig Patterson, who owns and operates Donald’s Bait & Tackle on the Port Orange Causeway. “They bring exclusive business to the mom-and-pop shops and can be redeemed for things like live bait, which is not carried by the big-box stores.”
But let’s say you’re stubborn about doing your own gift-shopping, and for argument’s sake, let’s say your budget allows for more than a dozen shrimp or a pack of split-shot.
“For new anglers, I recommend buying a gift certificate for a charter with a captain who’s willing to teach tips and tricks,” Pettigrew says.
Did we mention Capt. Billy is a guide? (RedfishTails.com for more info).
“But make sure it’s the style of fishing they want to do. Don’t buy an offshore trip for someone who wants to learn bass fishing. Also, the cheapest isn’t always the best, but the most expensive also isn’t always the best. Do your research.”
Maybe fishing is a “lifestyle” thing for the angler in your life. Along with all the appropriate hardware, they want to look the part — be it early-century Hemingway or modern-day Guy Harvey.
That’s right, some guys just have to dress the part. Gals, too. Can’t swing a cat around these parts without hitting a Columbia shirt or Huk windbreaker.
That’s where a place like New Smyrna Outfitters comes into play. After doubling its size earlier this year, Outfitters has you covered for everything from a $3 pompano rig to fly rods that cost as much as a new refrigerator. And every possible thing you can think of to put on your head, feet, back and bottom half.
Bottom line, there’s probably no safe gift to buy your favorite angler, so you might want to go practical. That’s right, sunscreen.
Or, since many folks fish for the most ancient and basic of reasons — to feed themselves — local guide Art Mowery offers a suggestion to help facilitate that endeavor:
“A good filet knife.”
Capt. Jeff Patterson (Pole Dancer charter) says it’s too bad the weather has been shaky, at best, because there are some opportunities out there.
“The snook bite has been red hot at the bridges,” he says. “Outgoing tide has been the best and I’ve been free-lining select shrimp and also fishing them on the bottom. Seatrout have been throughout the intracoastal and we’ve caught some nice ones on free-lined shrimp.”
Back to gift-giving for a quick plug: Capt. Jeff is offering price breaks on bookings made on Black Friday.
Craig Patterson says the new moon phase should trigger the trout bite, with live shrimp the best bait for the job. Along with reports of black drum, sheepshead and snook, he’s also hearing of doormat-sized flounder, which means we should remind you those tasty bottom-dwellers remain catch-and-release through next Thursday, Nov. 30.
Ike Leary says they’ve mostly been waiting out the rain and blows at his Granada Pier shop.
“Not much has changed from last week,” he said. “We need the wind to lay down, the rip currents to let up, and 80-degree temperatures.”
Ike also stated the obvious, which is always nice to hear.
“It will get better.”
In fact, “better” is upon us. If the forecast holds, it looks like we’re done with that nasty northeast wind, beginning Friday. At least on a daily basis. Warmer temps and southerly winds should be mixed into the forecasts, here and there, in the coming days.
Art Mowery likes to fish the Edgewater backwaters and a little south of there, and this week he sent in several pictures of some dinner-caliber black drum and lovely catch-and-release reds.
It’s still hard to navigate, due to so many beach entrances still off-limits or gone altogether.
But those who manage are finding blues, whiting and an occasional pompano.
The pomps are reportedly still massing in the Jacksonville area and slowly filtering into the southbound lanes, as is their fall custom.
However, our continued lack of sandfleas will likely have them coming through in the fast lanes instead of lingering a bit for nutrition. Clam and blue-crab knuckles are the preferred substitutes for most.
Big water on the intracoastal has sent a lot of quality fish up into the canals, creeks and flats, says Capt. Mike Vickers (Hammock Beach Bait & Tackle).
“Remember, these fish are grouping up by size, so big numbers may not mean big size,” he says. “If you start catching smaller fish, move on. If you catch larger fish, stay put and work that area completely.
“In these areas you can expect to catch reds, trout, snook, tarpon, flounder, mangrove snapper, and drum.”
Capt. Mike also reports talk of sheepshead and black drum catching fire at the Matanzas Inlet this week.
The Flagler surf-fishing scene is similar to that in Volusia — hard work, especially on the windier days.
Speckled perch (crappie to your northern friends) are still the hot ticket if you have access to the lakes. Spotty reports of bluegill, too.
With the north winds giving way to occasional breezes out of the south, the river should get back to its south-to-north flow and hopefully push some of that water out to sea.
Hook, Line & Clicker: Send us your fish pics
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Please include first and last name of angler(s), as well as type of fish (we’re occasionally stumped). All are included with our online fishing report, and some occasionally make the print edition.
Do I need a fishing license?
You can find all the license info, including exemptions, on Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission website: MyFWC.com. But the basics are:
No: If you’re 65 or older, 15 or younger, you don’t need a license.
No: If you’re fishing with a licensed guide or charter boat, both of which purchase commercial licenses that cover their customers.
Yes: Most everyone else, including visitors from other states.
Yes: Even if you’re a shore-based angler (shoreline, dock, pier, bridge, etc.). However: The shore-based license is free . . . But: You still need to register for that free license.
Where do I get a license, and what does it cost?
Many bait shops sell licenses, as do the bigger retailers (Bass, Dick’s, Walmart, etc.).
Florida’s FWC uses a third-party site for buying or renewing fishing licenses: GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
The cost: $17 for an annual license.
Don’t forget: Whether you’re fishing fresh or saltwater, you need the specific license. Freshwater and saltwater licenses are both $17 annually.
I’m here on vacation, do I need a fishing license?
Yes you do, and they’re also available at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or certain bait shops and big retailers.
Cost: $17 for three days, $30 for seven days, $47 for a year.
Also: Non-residents need to purchase that license even if they’re just fishing from shoreline or shore-based structures. (Florida residents need that license, too, but they’re free.)