There’s a newness about celebrating Christmas, a once-a-year spirit, if allowed, that can last throughout the coming year.
And when it comes to giving, there’s a chance to make this spirit of giving last for more much longer than the next 12 months. It’s because most gifts for your favorite outdoors adventurer are designed to last for years, not weeks nor months.
During the past year, a handful of new items hold the promise of can’t-miss fishing gifts. The top three were introduced at this year’s ICAST, the country’s largest tackle show.
Bill Humphries and son Billy Jr. unveiled a new must-have for saltwater anglers. It’s a bait basket, and it comes in your favorite colors (the most popular around here is purple and gold, but there are many others). It’s a rugged, heavy-duty plastic basket that floats. What makes it an all-purpose bait keeper is the snap-on lid with a small door.
Yes, it keeps shrimp and baitfish, but best is that you can get bait the night before, keep the bait alive in the water beside boat or camp, and be ready to head out the next morning without having to wait in long lines at the baitshop.
Next up is a new crankbait from Rat-L-Trap, the Echo 1.75. It’s a new venture for this Natchitoches-based company that’s dominated the lipless crankbait market for years.
It’s a unique square-billed lure, and it comes with all the latest manufacturing tricks, things like laser-imaging to produce more vivid colors and patterns, a sound chamber producing low-range and high-pitched sounds, and eyes that mirror surrounding colors.
The first test reviews proved the designers achieved desired results for Louisiana: Writing in Fishing Tackle Retailer, Joe Sills wrote, “This thing knocks, rocks and bangs its way through wood and grass like an old, trusty pickup truck. Appropriately enough, it also appears to be most effective in murky, muddy water.”
And south Louisiana has more than its fair share of murky, muddy water. Even better is that it can be worked slowly to produce a wide swath in shallow water, or cranked down to as deep as five feet with a tight wobble for more aggressive fish.
Because it can be worked in shallow water and over grass, Echo will be a productive lure in the marshes for bass and redfish.
Echo comes in 14 colors. The suggested retail is $7.99, but that’s less than half the price for what’s become a float-a-loan crankbait purchase in a market where $15-$25 baits are common.
Next up is Louisiana-based Egret Lures’ new 3.5-inch Mambo Mullet, a segmented soft-plastic lure with a swimming motion that leaves a fishermen with little work to do on their end to provide the “action,” needed to produce strikes.
It comes from the same company that produces the VuDu Shrimp and VuDu Mullet, which, if you’ve used them, you know they’re built to stand up to a long day of solid action on trout and redfish.
The Mambo comes in 10 colors, all of which are productive Louisiana coastal combinations.
Another new ICAST product came from Creme Lures, a company that’s been around just as long as Rat-L-Trap and H&H. Creme’s new idea is a series of single-package freshwater kits complete with tackle and easily understandable instructions. Panfish, Crappie, Texas Rig and Carolina Rig kits made it to large store shelves in time for Christmas, and can be a terrific gift for novice fishermen.
For the deer hunter
Safety harnesses save lives and prevent serious injury for the folks who climb into trees to hunt deer. Everyone knows someone who believes deer-stand accidents happen to the other guy, but Louisiana will have dozens injured, and pray we don’t have the usual 3-6 fatalities from tree-stand accidents.
Harnesses and harness systems run from $60-$140 depending on the size, weight and ability to prevent tree-stand falls. While there are hunters who’ll spend that kind of money, we all know those who won’t, and that’s why harness systems should be high on the gift list.
For the outdoors person who “has everything,” how about a modern life jacket, the kind that aren’t bulky, lay flat and are easily worn. These auto/manual inflatable vests come in sizes for kids and adults. Yes, they’re more expensive, upwards of $100, but making it easier to wear should mean they’ll be used, and when they’re used it could mean this gift will save the life of a loved one.
There are other tips, like avoid buying clothing, especially camouflage, or rods and reels, knives, fishing line because there are just too much of these items out there today, and you don’t want to run the risk of buying something not suited to the specific tastes, wants or needs of your favorite hunter or fisherman.
This is where gift cards come to the rescue for those among us who are left scratching their heads to come up with that just-right Christmas gift.