Outdoor Holiday Shopping

by Andrew A. Cox

The holiday season has rolled around once again. If you are like me, you are most likely racking your brain to identify and purchase gifts for those important people in your life. Some anglers have a multitude of angling items and gadgets, so finding something that they do not already have can be difficult. On the other hand, finding a fishing item that they may actually use over the course of a fishing season can be another dilemma.

As you search for holiday gift purchases, consider shopping at locally owned angling and sporting goods stores. These are many times small businesses that are the foundation of America’s economy and seem to be having a difficult time competing with the large, national, so called “big box” stores as well as online sales outlets. Most of these smaller stores have knowledgeable sales staff with excellent customer service that can provide gift ideas to you geared towards the angler’s preferred type of fishing. Another advantage is that you can actually see and touch the item to be purchased to judge its quality and features.

Another thing that I enjoy about local sporting goods outlets, though they may have a smaller inventory, sometimes classic left over stocks of lures and similar products no longer available at the big box or online sales outlets can be found. Finding original balsa Bang-a-Lures, Big O’s, or other discontinued tackle lines has occurred to me more than one time over the course of my browsing.

As years go by, I seem to be doing more and more of my angling purchases through on-line outdoors and angling websites and vendors. Multiple purchases can be made from your computer allowing completion of gift purchases for several persons at one time without leaving your office or home. This certainly saves time and the frustration dealing with crowds at various shopping areas. A disadvantage is that you can read about an item to be purchased, yet not able to view it until the item arrives at your location.

Like many anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts, I enjoy browsing around the big box outdoors stores. They have a large selection of items that can be picked up and viewed by the potential purchaser. A disadvantage is that these outlets only carry selected product lines. Accordingly, you may not find the specialty or niche fishing items found at smaller, locally owned sporting goods stores.

Don’t forget about homemade angling or angling oriented items. If you tie flies or jigs, making these in various color or size combinations are nice gifts. These handcrafted flies and jigs can be packaged into a nice box for presentation purposes. Fishing also seems to stimulate ones appetite. Prepared specialty and snack foods such as deer or beef jerky or similar foods that can be consumed while on the water are good gift items.

I certainly spend my share of hard earned dollars at the big box stores and online angling websites. Their large inventories of fishing products in one location allowing purchase of multiple items are certainly a draw. However, remember to spread some of your wealth around to your local sporting goods outlets or specialty stores. Don’t forget about those special angling gifts that you can make. You just might be able to find the perfect gift for that sportsperson in your life this holiday season; maybe even a gift that will be treasured for a lifetime.

   Author’s Note: Dr. Andrew Cox is a contributing writer to outdoor publications and newspapers. He has been fishing the waters of Georgia, Alabama, and north Florida for over forty years. Dr. Cox financially supports his fishing habits as Professor Emeritus at Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama. He may be contacted at andrewtrout@aol.com.