2017 Holiday Gift Guide Part 1
The holidays are always a special time of year, filled with the warmth of family gatherings and get-togethers with friends—and hopefully, a pile of new gear under the tree. Here at Fish Alaska magazine, we’ve been busy all year long, compiling a list of new and interesting must-have equipment for your shopping needs this holiday season, all in the hopes we can make your gift-buying excursions a little easier and get you back to the festivities that much quicker.
So, take a look through the items below, where we have featured everything from big-ticket boats to landing nets, and see if there isn’t something to bring a smile to that special someone’s face.
Xtratuf Legacy 2.0
Every saltwater angler in Alaska needs good fishing boots, and Xtratuf has long set the standard as the state’s unofficial fishing boot of choice, so if your angler has boots on his or her list, check out Xtratuf. The Legacy 2.0 is a hardcore fishing boot, designed to withstand the treacherous elements that fishermen encounter at sea. Built for both practicality and comfort, the Legacy 2.0 features an advanced new outsole that surpasses the SRC slip-resistance rating, a textured heel for easy on and off, and a contoured topline binding so the boot does not rub harshly against your calves. We’ve been wearing Xtratuf boots for almost 20 years and think that any saltwater angler would appreciate a pair giftwrapped and under the tree.
New Boat from Alaska Raft and Kayak
Alaska Raft and Kayak sells many different rafts, kayaks and drift boats from premier manufacturers such as Aire, NRS, Outcast, Hobie and Clackacraft. Has your angler been talking about wanting a one-man pontoon boat to get away from the crowds on the Kenai, to load in a plane and float a remote river, or to paddle around in search of monster trout on any number of blue-ribbon lakes in Alaska? If so, you’d make that person very happy by getting him or her an Outcast Fish Cat Panther. This 10-foot pontoon boat offers plenty of storage, has a load capacity of 400 pounds and is solidly built. We recommend that you go over to Alaska Raft and Kayak and talk to Mark or any of their capable people and check out the many options. For the month of October they are offering a special price of $1100 for the Fish Cat Panther and it also comes with a bonus pump, pfd and spare oar that are normally sold separately.
Ecoleeser RokLees Fish Descender
Here’s a great gift for the saltwater angler on your list. RokLees Fish Descender is a fish-descending device that returns fish suffering from barotrauma back to depth. Simple to use, the RokLees allows fishermen to send a fish back down to its habitat and recompress the gases in the swim bladder that caused barotrauma without piercing or further injury. Once the fish has reached a safe depth for release, a simple jerk on the rod will release the fish and it takes less than a minute to do. Every saltwater angler who catches rockfish should have a fish-descending device onboard and do their part to conserve and protect Alaska’s rockfish fisheries.
Every angler needs a net, probably more like half-a-dozen nets, as different nets are needed for different species and fishing applications. A floating net for the float-tuber/kayaker; a long-handled, big-basket net for the salmon troller; a fish-friendly net for the catch-and-release trout angler; or a medium-sized basket and handled net for the wade angler targeting sockeye. Adventure Products, Promar and Beckman Nets make a wide array of high-quality, feature-rich nets that would make a good gift for any angler. Sleuth the type of net your angler might need and one of these three brands has the solution.
FisheWear Merino Wool Collection
For the female anglers on your list, consider something from FisheWear. Earlier this year FisheWear added several new products to their lineup, including a merino wool collection that includes skirted leggings, a long-sleeve top and neck tube. The kit is available in two colors (gray and blue) and in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Every part of the merino wool collection is machine washable and will be a stylish and functional addition to any female angler’s clothing collection.
Does your angler own a boat and like to spend time trolling for salmon, trout and other resident species? Can he or she be found most weekends in August at a saltwater port such as Seward, Valdez or Homer in search of coho salmon? If so, we’ve got a gift you should consider. Hot Spot Lures has long been recognized as an industry leader and produces a wide variety of flashers. They also make the Apex Trolling Lure. We recommend that you get your fisherman a variety pack of flashers and Apex lures. We’ve used them to land 15-pound coho, 30-pound kings and 10-pound rainbow trout, and their flashers and Apex are always with us when trolling.
Skinner Sights BUSH PILOT
Introduced about a year ago in .44 Magnum, Skinner Sights BUSH PILOT takedown hunting and survival carbine was an instant success. In response to popular demand, Andy Larsson of Skinner Sights has taken this “package” to a new level of power. The Skinner BUSH PILOT is now available in the time-proven .45-70 Govt. The BUSH PILOT kit consists of a premium takedown lever-action carbine built to Skinner’s specs by Chiappa USA. Featuring Skinner’s rugged, reliable and accurate peep sights, this carbine breaks down and fits into a 20-inch OAL Skinner-designed case. Intended for use in a bush plane, boat, quad, snowmachine or simply tucked behind the seat in your vehicle, the BUSH PILOT can join you on any excursion. Included in the kit are essential premium survival items (Brunton compass, Doan fire-starter, Flare matches, Ontario Knife Company RAT 7 survival knife sporting the BUSH PILOT logo serial numbered to the carbine, 850 paracord, space blanket/shelter, Hexamine stove) and it all fits into the Skinner folding takedown case. This would make an excellent and highly cherished gift to any Alaskan outdoorsman.
Garmin inReach Explorer+
Explore anywhere. Communicate everywhere. The inReach Explorer+ is the satellite communicator and GPS navigator that uses 100% global Iridium coverage for 2-way messaging, tracking and interactive SOS from anywhere in the world. If you have adventurers on your list who like to get out off the grid, this is the gift for them. On a recent trip into the bush, we could use this device to email and text our loved ones. In that regard, this is a gift for you as well.
Tilgner’s Specialized Smoked Seafood Products
Tilgner’s specializes in making high-quality seafood products. They have an assortment of delicious holiday gift packs and retail packages available that include hot- and cold-smoked salmon, sockeye candy, smoked oysters, smoked sablefish, king salmon butterfly steaks and frozen sockeye fillets. Tilgner’s uses live-bled, carefully selected salmon, iced directly out of the ocean and delivered the same day from Cook Inlet fishermen. The complete process is done by hand with great care and attention to detail. Visit their web store for your holiday needs.
Fish Alaska Lifetime Subscription
New lifetime subscribers get to choose any fishing rod in the Columbia Composite or Tributary Salmon Steelhead series from Cousins Tackle as a bonus gift. So, if you want to make your angler really happy, get him or her a lifetime subscription and then they can choose any one of the 22 rods in both of those rod series and it will count as two gifts! Or you can give one angler the lifetime subscription and one angler the fishing rod and two people are happy—and critically, crossed off your list.
"There are few things more momentous to parents who fish and hunt than the point at which our kids become budding outdoor enthusiasts. When my little girl hucks her Lightening McQueen Shakespeare rod next to Daddy, who’s fishing his Spider-Man setup, my heart just melts.
For your family of fishing fanatics here are some ideas sure to light smiles on the faces of Alaska’s youth this holiday." —Melissa Norris
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Youth Combo
Many of us remember the moment we received our first fishing rod. Imprint tradition on your youth’s mind this holiday and help secure your fishing buddy for life. The Ugly Stik GX2 Youth Spinning Combo is a quality starter rod for a young angler and about as good as it gets. In Alaska we start our kids young on the water, so the GX2 Youth Spinning Combo is suitable for 4- to 8-year-olds to use for several years until they are ready to graduate to a small adult rod. The 5-foot, 6-inch, 2-piece, medium-action spinning rod features an EVA-grip design for lighter weight and smaller hands and a size 30 spinning reel with one ball bearing. At under $40 it’s a bargain. You don’t want to wrestle a king on this rod but it’s great for fishing trout and Dollies. Widely found at Alaska’s sporting goods stores.
Oakiwear Neoprene Youth Waders
I haven’t discovered anything better than Oakiwear neoprene waders for toddlers and young kids. We want our children living the Alaska outdoor life as early as they can handle and these warm, waterproof, boot-foot neoprene chest waders are the ticket to letting your kids be alongside you in the wild. They’ll handle most of what the Alaska summer and fall will throw your way for weather. Available from size 2T to youth 14/15 in pink camouflage or camouflage, they’re worth the price at around $100 each and they make durable hand-me-downs. You can find them at Big Ray’s stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as online at TuffKidsOutdoors.com.
Xtratuf Kids Legacy 8-Inch Boots
Known as the Alaskan Sneaker, Xtratuf boots are equally important for your Alaska kid as they are for you. From hitting the boat deck to splashing in puddles to making an outfit just right, you’ll get your use out of these boots. The boots range from toddler sizes starting with 5T to 9T and they are also available in little kids sizes 10L to 3L, then children’s size 4B, which is for about an 8- or 9-year-old. Big Ray’s Army-Navy stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks and Sweeney’s in Soldotna are good places to find a wide selection of sizes on kids’ Xtratufs.
Plano 5000-00 Kids Take Me Fishing Tackle Box
Their very own tackle box that comes with a starter tackle kit, including bobbers and split-shot, makes an excellent gift for a budding angler. Add a handful of #3 Blue Fox Vibrax, Mepps Aglias and Eppinger Daredevles, plus a couple packs of snap swivels, and they are ready to fish.
Kid’s Polarized Sunglasses
Is your child well-outfitted with rod, reel and waders? The next piece of serious equipment they can use is a pair of polarized sunglasses. Not only do they help them see fish past the glare on the water, they also act as protection from flying hooks. Flying Fisherman makes a line of Jr. Angler sunglasses that are affordable at around $15 and can take kid abuse and the odds of losing them at that budget. There are three styles to choose from. The Gaffer Jr. Angler is a good choice and it comes with an amber lens option, which works well in Alaska.
Fly-casting classes are offered annually in April or May at Mossy’s Fly Shop in Anchorage and 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla. You can contact these shops to sign-up for a class for your kids and they’ll get a couple hours of instruction from a local angler. Since the class dates are weather-dependent, you can stay in touch through their website, Facebook or email list. Purchase the class in advance to have the gift to give during the holidays. These classes are traditionally for adults, but kids about 12 and up are able to attend at Mossy's. At 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle the age depends on the child. 9-year olds are usually mature enough to participate. In Kodiak contact Big Ray's and inquire about the age of your child if you wish to sign them up for any of their classes taught by Hank Pennington. If you live in the Fairbanks area or are able to make a trip up, the Midnight Sun Fly Casters host a Kid’s Camp each summer for kids ages 10- through 16. The 3-day program teaches fly-tying, knot-tying, casting and fishing skills to both children and their parents. One parent and one child attending costs $100 and you can have an additional parent participate for $50 more. Space is limited, so buying the gift at Christmas is a great way to get on the list early. Additionally, most fly shops around the state are more than happy to share any of the basics. They’ll let your kid cast the youth fly setups available in their parking lot and help you at least figure out how to get your line out. You can get your child set-up with the Echo Gecko Combo for $170 or the Redington Minnow combo at around $150.
Gift Certificate to Sporting Goods Store
If your child has been fishing for a while and has all the basics needed to fish, then consider getting them a gift certificate to Sportsman’s Warehouse or a local store such as Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware, Big Ray’s, Mossy’s Fly Shop or Log Cabin Sporting Goods. They can go pick something they’ve been wanting for their next wilderness excursion.
Whether your budget means you can take your experienced 9-year-old fly-fishing enthusiast to a lodge on the Nushagak or for a road trip to Hope, make them a card using visuals to explain your fishing trip. Use old issues of Fish Alaska to cut out pictures or go to a local craft store for scrapbooking materials. Wrap up your masterpiece and surprise your youth with a special trip to look forward to this spring, where you’ll create a memory they’ll cherish their whole life.