Buying a last-minute Christmas gift is never an easy proposition for the outdoorsperson who seems to have everything. Let's not forget the person who wants to become more knowledgeable in the outdoors, too. Coming up with ideas can add stress during an already stressful time of year.
So, sit back, relax and take a deep breath.
Fly fishing offers an entire genre to consider, whether you are buying for an accomplished angler or a novice. You don't have to be an expert.
- Orvis Shop in Williamsville is currently offering a premium fly-tying package at a discounted rate. The package includes a vise, tools and materials necessary to tie 16 essential fly patterns. For novis fly fishermen, Orvis is offering 20 percent off rod, reel and line packages for Christmas. Orvis Shop also will offer free fly-tying classes on Thursdays and Saturdays starting on Jan. 12. To view class dates and register, visit Orvis.com/buffalo or call 716-276-7200.
- Join a club like the WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited (www.wnytroutunlimited.org) or the Lake Erie Chapter of Fly Fishers International (http://lake-erie-fff.org). Both are excellent clubs focused on fly fishing, offering monthly meetings, fly-tying instruction, regular informational speakers and they are involved with special habitat and community projects.
- Danny Colville at Colville Outfitters in Hamburg can offer guidance on how to select a rod and reel. Colville’s reels are some of the finest in the country. The shop also has quite a few stocking stuffers, including rod huggers, bait pals, Candy Creek beads, VooDoo jigs and a variety of custom-made jigs.
- Due to the variety of fish species available in Western New York, anglers have the option of joining one of the many fishing clubs; it's a great way to learn more about a body of water or species of fish. For example, expand your horizons on salmon fishing in Lake Ontario with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (www.lotsa1.org). For $10, you can access outstanding education at meetings with the ability to participate in fun fishing-related events.
- The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derbies (www.loc.org) is offering a holiday special for anyone wanting to buy a season pass (spring, summer and fall derbies together). A $100 Christmas stocking stuffer saves $10 off the normal price and $20 off buying each contest individually. The 2019 contests will dish out nearly $170,000 in prize money.
- Walleye lovers can join the Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY for $35. Sign up at www.southtownswalleye.com. The Niagara Musky Association will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2019 and this is a great time to sign up. Contact NMA President Scott McKee at 215- 3816 for details. The Niagara River Anglers Association is another good fishing group. Membership is $25. Contact President Paul Jackson at 731-4780. There are numerous bass fishing clubs in the area, too, including www.wnybassmasters.com and www.eriecountybassmasters.com. There are more than 100 clubs in WNY. Check out the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs at www.eriectyfsc.org for a list of nearly 60.
- There isn’t a better gift than a lifetime fishing, hunting or trapping license. The amazing thing is that if the individual receiving the license moves out of state, the license remains in full effect even if that person is no longer a resident. A lifetime license (which includes hunting, fishing and turkey hunting privileges) can be purchased for a youth ages 0 to 4 for just $380. If the ages are 5 to 11, the license is $535. For a person age 12 to 69, the lifetime tag is $765. Age 70 and older, the license is $65. You also can buy individual lifetime licenses for fishing, hunting, trapping, archery and muzzleloading. For more details, go to www.dec.ny.gov or call 866-922-2257.
- Another excellent gift is a charter fishing trip on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario or the Niagara River. It’s a perfect way to receive an on-water lesson for the species they want to target. Find charter listings for the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (www.easternlakeeriecharters.com), Niagara County (www.niagarafallsusa.com) and Erie County (www2.erie.gov/hotspot) online.
- Daily, bi-weekly and monthly/bi-monthly publications can make nice presents. Purchase online access for the Buffalo News at www.buffalonews.com to keep up with the outdoors or subscribe to New York Outdoor News at www.outdoornews.com. Magazines like Great Lakes Angler or Deer and Deer Hunting also make fine presents that can keep giving throughout the year with an annual subscription. DEC’s The Conservationist Magazine is available at www.dec.ny.gov.
From a shooting sports standpoint, there are several options available.
- Shooting clubs offer indoor pistol, sheet, trap, 5-stand, sporting clays, outdoor range and are one important way to show some love to that special someone. Find lists of more than 80 organizations at The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Club (www.eriectyfsc.org) and the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs (www.ncfcc.org), including many that offer shooting ranges and other options.
- The Ladies Shoot N’ Hoot Program at the North Forest Rod and Gun Club in Lockport affords women the opportunity to participate in their own shooting instructional program every month. Coordinator Colleen Gaskill said they will offer special packages that can be purchased this year as a stocking stuffer. One package will gift any four normal Shoot N’ Hoot events (usually the second Saturday of the month) for just $85 (15 percent savings). Another is for the Women Conquering the Outdoors Day on Sept. 14, 2019, with one regular month for $75 (15 percent savings). Or choose both packages. For more information, call Gaskill at 628-9023 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Books relating to the outdoors can be a special present under the tree, too. Here in Western New York, we are blessed with great authors on fishing and hunting. Rick and Jerry Kustich, Joel Spring, J. Michael Kelly, Spider Rybaak, Alberto Rey and others have produced some top-quality books we should share with family and friends. Bird identification books also are popular as people continue to expand their outdoor knowledge in this prime birding area.
Hopefully this helps with your quest to find that perfect Christmas present. Good luck to all.