If you are like me, I wait until the last possible day for doing my Christmas shopping. It’s not like I fail to think about it in advance. I do, making mental notes along the way. I’m not as good as I used to be, running out of ink with my internal pen more frequently. Actually going out and making those purchases, though, is like going to the dentist (with apologies to my dental professionals) – it’s painful, whether real or perceived. I’d rather be fishing, hunting, spending time outdoors or reading about it if I have spare time.
With that in mind, if you have a passion for the outdoors, think about ways you can share that passion with the hope of pulling new people into the fold. Look to the future beyond Christmas – a day (the opening of the late waterfowl seasons is Dec. 26), a week (lake trout season opens on Jan. 1 in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario), a month (the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is Jan. 19-21, 2018) and beyond for selecting that right gift. Like the Supertramp song goes, “Give a Little Bit.”
The lazy person’s way out is to simply give them a gift card from a local outdoor shop or a big box store like Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Dick’s and the other chain stores. National chain stores may offer more of a local flavor such as the Orvis Shop in Williamsville. If you are buying a gift for a fly fisherman (or someone who is thinking about becoming one), you need to check that shop out.
For example, Orvis Fishing Store Manager Drew Nisbet offers up a great suggestion for anglers who want to take their level of engagement up a notch. “We are going to be offering free fly-tying classes starting Jan. 13 and running every Saturday through Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day,” Nisbet said. “We supply the gear and the fly-tying materials for the free classes. However, if you wanted your own equipment, we have a premium fly-tying kit that would make a great Christmas gift. Register for one of the classes and we’ll give a coupon for $50 off the kit.” To register for the classes, call 276-7200 or register online at www.orvis.com/buffalo. Class size is limited.
Really, it’s all about education and you won’t find more than what is dished out in three days at the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo (www.niagarafishingexpo.com), set for Jan. 19-21 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Buy a weekend pass to maximize your return on investment. There is also the popular Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s Salmon School on Jan. 20, a full day of intense education from three experienced charter captains – Greg Amiel from Canada (fishing the Western Basin of Lake Ontario), Rick Hajecki (from Rochester) and Jason Coslow out of Michigan. Register at www.lotsa1.org. There are also new specialized clinics that go above and beyond for a wide variety of species and topics.
Reading is always a great way to pass the time in the winter months and picking up a subscription to The Conservationist Magazine, the official publication of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, it a great way to keep up on the outdoors. Check out http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/4839.html. For the best state publication to subscribe to if you want timely information on everything from outdoor news and legislation to hunting and fishing activities (how-to, where-to), check out New York Outdoor News. The tabloid comes out every two weeks. Steve and Paula Piatt do a great job. Check out www.outdoornews.com/newyork.
In the book arena, we are blessed with some outstanding authors in the Empire State. If you are looking for a fishing book to pass along as a Christmas gift, look to Rick Kustich, J. Michael Kelly, Jim Lorentz, Joel Spring and Spider Rybaak to seek out fish-catching knowledge. Kustich has some excellent fly fishing books such as Advanced Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead and, his most recent, Hunting Musky with a Fly. Kelly offers up an excellent encore performance to his Trout Streams of Central New York with a new Trout Streams of Western New York. Lorentz, the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Famer, recently completed his book The Atlantic Salmon: Moody and Mysterious. All of these can be purchased through Amazon or at the Orvis store in Williamsville. Spring’s Ultimate Guide to Kayak Fishing is a good read and full of insight into rigging your kayak and fishing from it. Spider-man recently penned a complete guide to Fishing Oneida Lake, a must-read for Oneida fanatics. From the hunting end of things, you can’t go wrong with anything by Charles Alsheimer or Peter Fiduccia.
If reading isn’t your thing, try a DVD like Spey Daze, a Great Lakes Journey. Produced by Robert Thompson, it’s an excellent film focused on steelhead and the swung fly. The double-DVD set features many exciting rivers throughout the Great Lakes including some right here in New York. There is over 4 hours of action.
One of the big crazes sweeping the country right now is centerpin fishing. We have one of the best shops in the country for it in Hamburg: Colville Outfitters. “The Trinity reel has a strong clicker, great start up, lifetime warranty and made in Buffalo,” says Danny Colville, proprietor of the shop. The reel is a perfect pairing with a Riversider 11-foot 3-inch or 13-foot rod. Stop into his shop to check them out.
Colville also recommends something called the Rod Hugger, an inexpensive accessory locally made that helps protect your rod by keeping it securely together, serves as a hook keeper and also helps you to guide your rod into your storage or vehicle.
Before we leave the centerpin topic, another local company is Sheffield from the folks over at Triple S Sporting Supplies of Amherst. The Sheffield Center Pin Float Combo is a great rod-and-reel pairing that lets you start at a high level for a modest price.
Quaker Boy Game Calls is another local business with national recognition. Public Relations Director Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston insists his favorite grunt call is the Brawler, the top grunt call in the marketplace right now for deer hunters. For turkey talkers, the Hurricane waterproof box call is tops in Calandrelli’s book. The trigger finger turkey call is another good one. Check out www.quakerboy.com.
One final high ticket item if you are looking for the best is the CamX crossbow out of Rochester. Made in the USA, it’s worth taking a look at www.camxcrossbows.com. Maybe we’ll see an expansion of the crossbow season in 2018. I know we are just scratching the surface, but these will hopefully get you started before we run out of time.