Ask most fishermen what their perfect Christmas gift would be and a common response is a shiny new boat and motor all tricked out. Well, that’s out of reach for most of our budgets, but there are plenty of gadgets to add to improve the boat you have or tackle and equipment to add to your fishing arsenal.

I made a trip to the Old Pine Island Marina in St. James to get some ideas for gift recommendations and I gotta say I was like a little kid in a candy store! So much cool stuff and new things to make you a better fisherman. I always reflect back to when we would go fishing sporting an old stained T-shirt and barefoot with a worn out rod and reel and a couple lures in a bucket. I don’t know if we caught less fish then than now but we sure didn’t look as cool.

Depending on your Christmas budget there are plenty of gifts in every price range. From sunglasses to cook books, clothing to rods and reels there is something every angler want or needs.

A couple gadgets that have really changed inshore salt water fishing over the past ten years has to be the bow mount salt water series trolling motor and the Power Pole shallow water anchor on the stern of the boat. Both have revolutionized the way we fish the flats and once you use either it’s almost impossible to be without. They are not inexpensive gifts but if the fishermen in your life fishes the flats and isn’t equipped with either it would make a great gift it they fit in your budget.

The Power Pole is designed to hold your boat in position with several models beginning at about nine hundred bucks. A new gadget on the market and a lot easier on the pocket is a Stick IT. It accomplishes basically the same thing as the Power Pole; it just requires a little manual labor. They are priced well under one hundred bucks and there is no electronic or hydraulic parts to malfunction (always a plus in a harsh saltwater environment.) I have spoken to a lot of anglers who have a Power Pole on the back and use a Stick It to secure the bow for perfect boat positioning.

One thing I have learned after spending my life around the saltwater is you can’t sacrifice on quality. Cheap stuff not made for the harsh marine environment will just not hold up, period! It’s better to spend a little extra and get something that’s going to last. A couple good cases in point are items I bought a long time ago and are still used every day on my boat. Both cost over a hundred dollars and I thought were a rip-off at the time, but looking back they were some of the best investments I made. The first is a Boga-Grip fish gripper, it’s a handy device designed to safely hold your catch by the lips and weight it at the same time. I put one on my boat the first year they were on the market. It’s probably been around fifteen years has never been out of my boat and works the same as the day I bought it. The second is a high quality pair of fishing pliers. Before I spent the bucks and bought some high end pliers I used to replace the cheapies every few months it seemed. I ‘have had the same pair sheathed to my belt for the past six or seven years and they are still working great. There are several brands and models and usually the more expensive ones you will find secured in a display case in the stores.

For rods and reels and fishing tackle there are far too many choices to even begin going through. Depending on your budget you can get a rod and reel combo for about twenty bucks and the quality increased with the price. If you want the ultimate rod and reel combo you can go with something like a Shimano Stella reel matched to a G Loomis Green Water rod. I guarantee that combo will make a serious fisherman very happy. Fishing lures make great stocking stuffers, but there is an enormous amount to choose from. Ranging from casting the flats for trout or deep trolling for grouper the selection is huge and the best bet is let the experts at the tackle shops help you make the right selection.

When on the water it’s great to capture your memories of the day and share with others. Digital Cameras have come a long way in the last several years. They are compact, take great pictures and many are built for extreme outdoor conditions. There are many to choose from, I carry an Olympus Stylus model 850 SW, it’s totally waterproof, comes with a floating wrist band in case you drop it over the side, takes great pictures and also videos. I come home at the end of the day and wash it down with the rest of the gear.

Probably the best gift idea that has come out in a long, long time is a Gift Certificate from your favorite store. I could not imagine going shopping for my wife and coming home with the perfect pair of shoes or dress that she really wanted. Well, it’s the same for the angler or boater, why even try to get the perfect present if you don’t know what it is. Odds are the angler you are buying for probably doesn’t know either, at least until they get in the store and shop around. I know when I get a gift card to a store I buy things for myself that I wouldn’t normally, we indulge a little I guess. No, receiving a gift card at Christmas isn’t as flashy as a big gift wrapped box, but it’s the best way to ensure they get what they want and not waste any money on stuff that won’t get used.

Still not sure on the perfect gift, how about a gift certificate for a fishing charter with a local professional guide. Whether you have a boat or not, it’s a great gift for someone who would like to learn the waters a little better, learn some new techniques, improve their fishing skills or just go out with friends or family and catch some fish. It’s kind of like spending the day at the spa for an angler, you get pampered all day, all the work is done for you and best of all when you get off the boat you grab your bag of fish already filleted and go home, nothing to clean!

Whether your budget is ten dollars or a thousand dollars I can’t stress enough to shop at a local store that offers that personal touch. You just can’t put a price on local knowledge when it comes to buying a gift and not wasting money on items that aren’t practical for local waters. There are just so many choices and we only mentioned a few, ask for help if you need it.

I have to thank Mary and Paul at Old Pine Island Marina in St. James for helping me rummage through their store looking for ideas. They really have a lot of great stuff! I know when I left I had several new things to write on my Christmas wish list.

If you have a fishing story or photo that you would like to share or for charter information (Christmas Gift Certificates available), please contact us at (239)283-7960 or Have a safe week and Happy Holidays!