If you were late getting your letters out to Santa for your significant other, kids, grandchildren or whomever, here’s some last minute gift ideas that could help put something under the tree or in a stocking hung by the chimney with care.
While many people tend to push the easy button and lean toward the big box stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, don’t forget about the little guys – the small mom-and-pop shops that keep the flow of business going through our area towns and villages in Western New York. Pick up a gift certificate at a local tackle shop or an outdoor store if you don’t know what they need. With the purchase comes some expert advice and long-term maintenance care for big-ticket items like bows, crossbows and guns.
Don’t forget about membership in a local fishing or shooting club. For example, Southtowns Walleye Association is a great group to join if you want to learn more about walleye fishing in Lake Erie. Sign up for $35 at www.southtownswalleye.com. You will notice that they are already accepting applications for the club’s big walleye tournament, set for June 10-18, 2017. You must be a member of the club so you can knock off two fish with one cast for this stocking-stuffer.
Another great group is the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association. Membership is just $10 and education is a big focus of the club. If you are already in tune with the Lake Ontario salmonid fishery and want to learn more, become a member. You can also take it a step further and sign your fishing fanatic up for the top-notch “Salmon School” (cost is $85, which includes $10 club membership) set for Jan. 21, 2017 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls – part of the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo set for Jan. 20-22, 2017. Sign up for the Salmon School at www.lotsa1.org ; buy your significant other a one or three-day admission pass for the Expo, too. Details can be found at www.niagarafishingexpo.com. There isn’t a better show on fish and fishing – highlighting salmon, trout, walleye, bass, musky, perch and so much more.
Speaking of the Expo, there’s a new offering that takes your education to the next level. Through the Expo only, a short on-water fishing lesson of 3-1/2 to 4 hours is being offered for Lower Niagara River trout fishing with expert guides serving at as the educators. There is a limited amount of space for this so be sure to sign up early at www.niagarafishingexpo.com. Total cost is $100 per person, which also includes a one-day admission into the show. The trips are being offered from Jan. 19-24, 2017. If those dates don’t fit into your present plans, consider the option of hiring a charter captain for a group of anglers that just might include the entire family when the weather is nicer. There is a new WNY Hotspot Fishing Map that includes charter listings for Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties that is available in county tourism offices, information centers and most tackle shops. You can also look online at www.niagara-usa.com/things-to-do/fishing/ ; http://www2.erie.gov/hotspot/; www.tourchautauqua.com.
If they enjoy fishing derbies like the big NYS Winter Classic (Jan. 1-Feb. 28, 2017) or the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) events, buy their tickets in advance at a good rate by going on their respective websites at either www.nyswinterclassic.com or www.loc.org. Dave Chilson with the LOC contests will be offering a $10 savings for anyone purchasing a season pass by Christmas.
Don’t forget about the hunters and shooters out there! There are several shooting preserves in Western New York if you want to purchase a bird package for pheasants and quail. Contact an area guide for a duck, goose, turkey or deer hunt in the coming year. Best website Is www.nysoga.org, the home for the New York State Outdoor Guides Association. Contact a local shooting club to see what options might be available for shooting a round or two of sporting clays, trap, skeet or 5-Stand. For a list of Erie County clubs go to http://www.eriectyfsc.org/; Niagara County clubs, http://www.outdoorsniagara.com/niagara_county_federation_affili.htm; Chautauqua, Wyoming, Allegany, Cattaraugus and other county club listings go to http://www.huntfishnyoutdoors.com/sportsmensclubsdirectory.php.
Another great Christmas item is an outdoor book or two featuring the authors that live right here in Western New York. Joel Spring of Ransomville has a few books under his belt, with this most recent being “The Ghosts of Autumn.” If you are a hunter, a dog lover, a lover of the outdoors or all three – this is a great stocking-stuffer that you can find in area book stores or on Amazon. Bob Rich, Jr. has a new book out, too entitled “Looking through Water.” It a quick read and a story line that involves fishing. Proceeds benefit Project Healing Waters. Another local book author is Rick Kustich of Grand Island. He currently has a creel-full of books on fly fishing the Great Lakes and his insight is worth every penny. Some other new books written by Empire State pen-pushers and lure-casters include: Oneida Lake, the Adirondacks and Great Lakes fishing, all by Spider Rybaak; Mike Kelly recently completed a book on trout fishing in Central New York.
People involved with the great outdoors should be thinking “big picture” toward the future, too. If you have a new child or grandchild, look into getting them a lifetime fishing or hunting license … or both. Youngsters don’t need a sporting license until 16 years of age. However, purchasing it early can lead to a significant discount. The best thing is that once you have your lifetime tag, you are set forever – even if you move out of state. For example, a kid age 0 to 4 can pick up a sportsman’s license (hunting and fishing) for $380. Kids age 5 to 11 can get a sportsman’s tag for $535. A person age 70 or older can pick up a lifetime license for $65 if you looking for something for the senior in your life. Go to www.dec.ny.gov for details.
Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!