With visions of Kwikfish by the dozens dancing in their heads Central Peninsula fishermen might wake Christmas morning looking for their stockings to be stuffed with curing salts and secret brine recipes and hung from a new smoker with care.
With the holiday now four weeks away and coinciding with a snowless and heavy freeze cycle, the fishermen and fisherwomen on your list might actually prefer to find new ice fishing gear under the tree. Whatever species they’re after in fresh water or salt here are a few items that local outfitters recommend in a variety of price ranges.
For the green-minded 21st century ice fisher, this year Eskimo has the Ion 40-watt lithium ion battery powered ice auger that weighs about 40 percent less than a gas powered version. Priced near $500, it’s on the more expensive of gift lists.
“It’s the first battery powered auger that works well,” said Scott Miller of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna. He tested the hole-maker last winter drilling 40 holes through 1.5 feet of ice on Sport Lake.
Even greener, Eskimo makes an eight-inch hand auger that sells for about $25.
Gear-heads that have been good enough this year will love to take the Marcum VS625SD underwater fish camera out on the ice in the coming months. On screen, the Marcum shows camera depth, direction and water temperature.
Also new this year is a fresh approach to the ice-fishing reel. Somewhere between a bait caster and fly reel, the Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel and the Wright & MeGill Ice Reel are hugely popular gift items that come in between $30 and $50 and promise to stop the ice up of classic spinning gear.
Ugly Stik also got into the ice fishing game this year with the GX2 line of rod and reel combos for about $30.
Martin Hill at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Soldotna said there is not much new in fishing rods this year but recommended a top-shelf $99 fly rod from WW Griggs. The IM 6 is built in Aurora Ore. and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Hill’s shop keeps a full line of surf casting, saltwater, fly fishing, halibut and salmon gear on the shelves year round. With walls of lures to choose from, stockings will be easy to stuff.
Known for its selection of fly-fishing gear, Sportsman’s Warehouse has tying kits that make great gifts for beginners and individual tools, such as vices, clippers and bobbins by the scores for stocking stuffers.
“They can spend the winter tying flies in preparation for next season,” Hill said.
For those using $5 filet knifes and looking to move up a notch, a great stocking stuffer would be the Victorinox filet knife. Priced around $30, the 7-inch poly handled high-carbon bladed knife is touted to give a lifetime of use.
Miller said a few jars of eggs; a hook sharpener; Pixies and Vibrax will make a nice stocking for salmon fishermen. And, pliers, fisherman can always use pliers, he said.
Last minute pick-up gifts under $20 for ice fishers this season include neoprene gloves, ice skimmers, tip-ups, bucket lid seats, hand warmers and wire rod holders are classic, he said.
Reach Greg Skinner at email@example.com