This column is dedicated to the recreational fisherperson who wants to have a good time, get the boat wet, spend time with friends and family and maybe catch a couple fish.
I can't believe another year has gone by. It seems like only several months ago I was writing about Christmas gift ideas and now, here I am again. This year, Christmas requests are more difficult for me than most years because I've got everything I need and pretty much all of what I want. I even spent time asking fishing friends for suggestions as to what they would like for Christmas. Surprisingly, I got very few answers. My fishing buddy, Bill, said he would like some new GPS waypoints for fishing spots. Bill is one of the best fishermen I know, so I said, "Hey, why don't you just give me all your old ones?" That didn't work.
But it made me wonder about waypoints as gifts. I've got a bunch of waypoints I've collected over the years, and a lot of them, I don't even fish anymore. Some waypoints are commercially available, on charts, or the Internet. If you want to give yourself, or someone else, some waypoints as gifts, try going on the Internet and typing in what you would like. Try typing in "yellowtail fishing waypoints," or "grouper fishing waypoints in the Florida Keys," for instance. It might take awhile, but patience pays off.
Here's a hint. Go to www.florida-keys-fishing.org, then click on Florida Keys GPS Points. You will find a listing of waypoints from Miami to Key West. Some of the biggest yellowtail snappers I have ever caught came off this Web site's Marathon Reef Site numbers. There's even one named Canabis Cruiser. Who knows what you might catch there? I've been talking a lot lately about deep jigging the humps. Do a search for Marathon Hump, or Islamorada Hump, and you will find the exact GPS waypoint coordinates. Why not look up a couple of these waypoints and e-mail them to your fishing friends as "secret" waypoint Christmas gifts. Sneaky, huh?
And then, while you're at the Hump, why not try the new Williamson Vortex series of deep jigs? The manufacturer claims these jigs are designed specifically to drop faster in the water. Those of us who deep jig know how important it is to get the jigs down quickly to minimize the effects of the currents that sometimes sprint across the areas we call the Humps. The first time I used one of these Vortex jigs, I opened the bail and the jig sliced into the water, disappearing in gin-clear Gulfstream water as if it had been fired from a slingshot. Any fisherperson who does this type of fishing would be happy to get one or two of these as gifts, just to see if they really do drop that fast. These are terrific gifts and sell from $8 to $14 each. I lost what might have been my biggest-ever tuna to sharks after hooking him with one of these Vortex jigs in the bright glow-in-the-dark color.
If you are looking for a gift for your special trolling fisherperson, I recommend the same as last year, blue-and-white, and red-and-black Iland lures. More of my big wahoos have been caught on the full-size red-and-black on a wire leader, or the full-size blue-and-white rigged on monofilament than any other of my trolling lures. Iland has a new line now, called Flasher series, that can not be distinguished from real fish when being trolled. Billy Baits in the same color combinations are also deadly in Florida Keys waters.
For something a little more fun for the fisherwoman in your life, there is a whole line of pink, that's right, pink, fishing gear. Call around to the local tackle shops and you can find pink rods and reels, tackle boxes, clothing and even pink Iland lures with fiber optic skirts. I put one of these pink lures in the water one day when fishing with my wife, and within two minutes we had a "gaffer" dolphin crash through the spread and inhale the pink lure. One of my friends is a tournament-winning female fly fishing person and I offered to tie a set of custom, pink, flies for her. But, she quickly declined. Oh well, it sounded like a good idea to me.
One item I think every fisherperson needs is a line counter. Shakespeare, and other manufacturers, makes small plastic line counters than you clip on a fishing rod. The fishing line runs over a small wheel and a numerical readout, like an odometer tells you how much line has been let out. This is a gadget freak's Nirvana, and at a price of around $10 is a worthwhile gift for anyone. I use mine when I set out a trolling spread, especially when I run tuna-feathers 300 feet behind the boat and I always use mine when I deep jig.
If I am marking fish on the recorder at 350 feet, I don't waste time wondering where my jig is. Trying to figure out how far down I have dropped a jig is much more difficult, and much less precise, than I would have expected. On a recent blackfin trip, I was showing some guys the deep-jig thing for the first time. We marked fish at 290 feet and I called out the depths as the jig dropped. When I reached 350 feet I closed the bail and jigged up through the 290 area and hooked up each time. This was very cool.
People tell me that I am cheap. What do they know? But, I hate buying fluorocarbon because it is so expensive. Fluorocarbon leaders will blow the doors off any other leader product. Since it is used primarily for leaders, it is not necessary to buy huge spools of it. Any fisherperson would be happy to get an assortment of 25 yard spools of fluorocarbon leader in 10, 20 and 40 pound weights. The spools cost around $10 to $14 each.
All of my gift suggestions this year are very affordable, especially the GPS waypoints. Which reminds me, I have to send an e-mail to Bill with a "secret" GPS waypoint and a Merry Christmas wish. Whether he catches big snappers or not, I'm sure he'll agree, life is good in the Florida Keys, life is very good in the Florida Keys.
C.J. Geotis is a life-long fisherman who followed his dream to live in the Florida Keys over eight years ago. He lives in Marathon with his wife, Loretta. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org