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Click here for Merit McCrea – WHEELHOUSE SCOOP

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Piscis non grata
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Northeast Santa Ana winds

Dropping the hint
On the one hand, it would be really cool to find that right iron hanging from the tree Christmas morning, or the reel you had picked up and put down at the tackle shop three times already. But on the other, there’s always that fear of getting gear you really want to appreciate, but just can’t. Those that don’t fish just don’t get it, no matter how much you love them.

Well, there are those few among us, who really seem to figure out how to make the right thing happen, and it’s called communication, tactful but clear. I’m really the worst at it, but I understand there are those who figure it out.

Their Christmas lists are clear and concise, with exact models and such. Maybe it’s the new LEXA-HD400XS-P. Swap a few letters in that and instead of 43 inches per turn, it’s looking exactly the same, but instead of a killer light iron reel, it’s a powerful bait-fishing reel instead.

On the other hand, maybe the holidays are really a chance for those that know and care for you to gift you something that you really desperately need, but don’t know it. Perhaps it really is time to broaden one’s wardrobe beyond t-shirts and boardshorts.

But turnabout is fair play in this gifting game. How many good friends do you know who really need a hand in finding decent tackle? Or maybe they’ve never made the leap from shore and pier fishing, and you know they’d be really stoked to fish on an actual boat, go fishing where folks are more likely to ask how many fish you caught, rather than if you caught one.

Just about all the landings offer gift certificates, and some even offer them at a discount. Not only are gift certificates for a fishing trip a great gifting opportunity, but they’re an opportunity to lock in a discount price for yourself as well.

It’s also the season the boats are online for harbor light tours and in places like Dana Point Harbor (Dana Wharf Sportfishing) and Newport Bay (Davey’s Locker and Newport Sportfishing), the boats offer a chance to actually be in the boat parade some nights. It’s an opportunity for a fun time with friends and family. It’s a chance for those of you who fish those boats to show less seaworthy friends and family around the deck of the boats you fish on.

Aside from using Christmas shopping as an excuse a visit to the docks and tackle shops, things like gift certificates can be purchased online or over the phone and they will mail them out to the intended recipient directly. One and done!

Out at tackle shops there’s no end to the great gifts — from terminal tackle, to multi-colored rockfish flies to decorate the Christmas tree with, deckwear, boots and tools, belts and pliers and cutters, that killer lethal-looking tuna spike you think might make an ideal ice pick for the bar, you name it.

A good number of shops, especially the big ones like Turner’s Outdoorsman and Big 5, have shooter’s supplies and hunting gear, too. Is this the last California Christmas where one might gift a box of shot shells? California ammo is perhaps Christmas 2017’s most unique and thoughtful gift — maybe even a keepsake worthy of dating and signing.

Californians are stocking up ammo all over, rather than have to deal with the coming background check hassle. New legislation promises to develop a database of all those who purchase ammo after Jan. 1.

Plus, such information doesn’t seem to be excluded under the California Public Records Act, and if not, it may make it possible for a “concerned citizen’s group” to obtain and publish addresses of California’s ammo buyers, perhaps onto a Google Maps or Google Earth API. Such a website might look like Zillow or HomeFinder, but instead of showing numbers of bedrooms, bathrooms and property value, it might show how much and what kind of ammo the resident had purchased.

How’s that for a conspiracy theory? At any rate, California hunters and preppers are on a Holiday buying spree. If you’re a bird hunter, your January plans may be a bust unless you are stocked up before New Years.

It’s basically BYO Bullets hunting beginning in 2018. I can’t remember right now if one is allowed to give a friend in the field a few rounds if they run low. I think so, but was there a limit? Something like that, but, hmm...

Christmas shopping can be fun if it’s aisles of Cal Stars and Seekers, racks of Phenix and UC and Cousins, cases of Avets and Accurates, Okuma and Shimano, walls of Tadys and Salas, Big Hammer swimbaits galore, MCs on Trokar’s Kelp Trick, too, and Costas by the case, spinnerbaits, frogs and stickbaits decorating the tree… don’t forget to trade out those sharp hooks for paper clips.

Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California party boat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at:

GIFT CARDS FOR an angler’s favorite sportfishing landing are always a welcome stocking stuffer. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

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