Not really much happening in the bass fishing world for me lately – I’m just waiting on some ice. However, I get a bunch of questions each winter about what to get the fisherman who has everything, so I figured I’d address that question in my blog this month.
Stocking stuffers for “The dude with everything”
Hey, that’s me! My wife loves Christmas, but she absolutely cannot stand shopping for me because she thinks I already have everything. Well, in my very brief study while searching out the perfect, small or fairly inexpensive gift ideas for 2013, I have come across some items, which clearly prove her wrong. The following are what I would love to find under the tree or in my stocking next month.
I’m going to focus in the ice-fishing department. The coolest thing about this category, which by the way happens to be one of my absolute favorite winter activities, is that it is always evolving. There are always new inventions and fresh ideas that don’t always cost an arm and a leg. As a matter of fact, getting completely set up with all the right equipment is not really that huge of an investment at all, especially when compared to other interests or hobbies, such as bass tournament fishing or golf.
I’m going to start at the top or most costly, but trust me on this, if your dude doesn’t own a flasher, he is so completely missing the boat (or the ice, in this case). I compare these things to a cell phone because once you’ve had one; you simply can’t live without it. The Marcum VX-1 3-color sonar is a great unit and it’s priced right. I personally use the LX-5 model. It’s a bit pricier, but it has some added features that I’ve grown accustom to, though certainly not all “must have.” The VX-1 is fully capable of making your dude’s ice-fishing ventures a huge success and I highly recommend it.
I’ll move on to some things that will actually fit in your normal, everyday stocking now.
The Bait Puck Plus is on my Christmas list for this season. It retails for around $5 bucks and completely solves all of problems we ice anglers have when it comes to carrying and storing our live little creatures. This devise is insulated, keeping bait fresh under all conditions, preventing it from freezing, and also from getting crushed. This particular model also has a separator, which works like a small strainer, dividing the bait from the bedding with a quick flip of the wrist. All the other different Bait Puck models are cool too and the perfect gift for a guy like me!
832 Advanced Ice Braid is always on my list, because it is simply the best ice braid on the market hands down. You can’t go wrong with the 4-pound test, which is the lightest size offered by Sufix, and it’s also my preference by the way. It is super thin (at a 1-pound diameter) and the best part is that it doesn’t freeze as badly as the others I’ve used over the years. It is extremely water repellant also. If you want your dude to have the best, most abrasion resistant, high-strength ice line, look no further. You can usually buy this line for under $10 and it will barely put a dent in the stocking … so there is plenty of room left for…
Sufix Ice Magic! This is a sinking monofilament line and is what I use as a leader to connect to the 832 Braid. It is designed to stay manageable even in super cold water. And, like the 832, it is also built to prevent water absorption, or freezing. It comes in several sizes, from 1-pound test (my main choice) all the way up to 8-pound. A good average or “safe” size to start with would probably be 3-pound test. But for the price, I’d get them all because numerous spools will fit in that stocking.
Another great gift idea is a pair of Stabilicers heavy-duty ice cleats. This is such an important tool for ice fishing, but surprisingly, most ice walkers do not have them yet. They are called Stabilicers! They are made in the USA and trust me, they are an absolute must have, not to mention a great stocking stuffer. Not only do these strap on cleats from 32 North provide much needed traction, but they can also prevent serious injury from a slip on the ice.
Now let’s look at some lure ideas. This is an extremely tough category to achieve perfect results, simply because there are just zillions of choices. There are jigging spoons, lead jigs, hooks, weights, bobbers, and then all the soft plastics known to man. I’m going to tell you the basic tools that I use from day to day, stuff I feel I can’t live without. VMC Spoons are my choice in the jigging department. The 1/32-ounce Flash Champ works really well, and if I had to pick a single color (which I can’t, but if I could) it would be “shiner” because it looks like a real minnow. But a variety of options is always a good thing. In regard to all the bait colors, keeping it simple is a must. Besides the minnow type colors, I recommend perch, gold and something with some bright chartreuse or orange in it, easy right?
The good old Rapala Jigging Rap is a tough little guy to beat and you can’t imagine how many fish I’ve pulled through the ice with these things. However, Rapala has complicated things (in a good way) by adding some newer versions of this old standby, like the Jigging Shad Rap, and the newer Snap Raps. There’s also a new hybrid type of jig/spoon that I personally hope shows up in my stocking – it’s appropriately named a Minnow Jig and is made by VMC. Again, these are brand new, but something I’m quite sure will work and I’m excited to try. All of these are really good jigging baits, so aside from reminding you to keep it simple when picking colors, all I can really do is wish you luck. Know too that more than a few of these will fit in the big sock!
Moving on to soft-plastic baits and again remembering my own “must haves”…VMC and Yamamoto have it all covered. For most crappie and perch fishing, my two most targeted species on the hard water, the Yamamoto 2-inch grubs and 1.75-inch tubes are my No. 1 choice without a question. Clicking the link above will take you all the panfish style baits provided by Gary Yamamoto. Don’t worry, it is not all that confusing, there’s only five different models, all of which are in my box at all times. The tiny Ika’s are awesome, as are the 2-inch Yamaminnows. When it comes to the colors, well, that’s another story because Yamamoto is known for his vast color selections. But again, I urge you to keep it as simple as possible by starting with minnow colors, chartreuses, pinks, and maybe a dark color or two … piece of cake!
For those tougher days on the ice, or when targeting smaller fish, such as bluegills, VMC offers everything I need and much more. My favorites are the smallest available Wax Tail Jig and the Larvae Jig, and that’s all your dude is going to need!
Another product that is often over-looked is a rod carrier. I use the Rapala Soft 30-inch rod bag which stores up to four ice rod-and-reel combos in separate 30-inch sleeves. It features a really nice padded case with a good-sized storage pocket for some extra gear. I like the adjustable shoulder strap too. It’s just a well thought out simple bag, again from Rapala. They also make a similar, longer 40-inch bag as well, if needed.
My top pick for the perfect, higher-end but properly priced ice-fishing gift (assuming your dude already has a Marcum Flasher) is something that I can almost guarantee the dude who has everything doesn’t have. Are you following me? It is the first true hybrid ice-fishing reel and it’s all new and selling like hotcakes by the way. They call it a Tear Drop, and it could very well be the future of ice-fishing reels. They cost around $120, but for the superior features and well-thought-out cold-weather design, you can’t go wrong with this bad boy from 13 Fishing. Available in left and right hand models, The Tear Drop comes in a perfectly sized box and would be such a pleasant, unexpected prize at the very bottom of a certain Christmas stocking.
And lastly, my No. 1 pick in the small stocking stuffer category is the Rapala Scatter Rap USB 8 GB drive. How awesome is this? This little custom-designed Scatter Rap USB drive comes in the Blue Back Herring color pattern. Gosh, I sure hope I get one of these!
One final holiday tip: It’s never a bad idea to check out all the gift ideas at Rapala.com. They have a price filter option, which really helps narrow down exactly what you are looking for. This well-known company is constantly adding new and unique products to satisfy your thirst as well as the person shopping for the dude that has everything.
~Good luck & Merry Christmas!
The Erie, Pa., region (VisitErie.com) is considered one of the top destinations for ice fishing in the tri-state area. Featuring Presque Isle Bay State Park and the many in-land lakes and reservoirs dotted to the south and east, you can expect to catch a wide variety of fish species, and some trophies too. I grew up here, and spent my entire life learning how to find and catch fish through the ice from these Erie and Crawford County waterways. I’ve also traveled to other “famous” ice fishing destinations over the years, only to further appreciate that the Erie area is truly a world-class ice-fishing treasure.
Sponsored for 10 years by Kellogg’s, Dave Lefebre is an FLW Tour pro living in Erie, Pa., right on the shores of Lake Erie. In the warmer months, you can’t miss him fishing the Wal-Mart FLW Tour in his brightly colored Tony The Tiger Ranger boat. You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveLefebre and “Like” him on Facebook at facebook.com/davelefebre
Lefebre also has recently expanded on his fishing business to include some hard-water activities during the winter months, which until now was considered his “off-season”. Erie Ice Fishing Adventures offers a variety of ice-fishing trips in the Erie area and is quickly becoming a big success. You can find everything you need to know by clicking the link above, including packages, pricing, and gift certificates, another great gift idea! “I’ve always enjoyed teaching others to catch more fish, but ultimately, it’s just something fun really … something I’ve always wanted to do!” ~ DL