Anglers and hunters are, generally speaking, pretty easy to shop for come Christmas time. There are dozens of items pertaining to their particular interests available at tackle and sports shops, in a wide range of prices.
There is one major caveat, however. You must know the exact item — its size, color and model — or your gift is likely to fall flat. A “fishing plug” doesn’t do the job if it was designed to snake a largemouth bass out from under a raft of lilly pads and what he or she really wanted was a Tomic, 5-inch, model 602 salmon plug.
One way to bypass the problem is to present the outdoor aficionado with a fishing and/or hunting license for the season ahead. While the new license year doesn’t begin until April 1, many hunters and anglers like to have their license in hand prior to the start of the season, according to Peter Vernie, state Fish and Wildlife Department licensing manager.
Recreational fishing and hunting licenses, which are valid from April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019, are available for purchase this month by phone at 1-866-246-9453, at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or at hundreds of state license vendors across the state (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors). License fees vary by type, but some of the most popular can be purchased in the $30 to $50 range. An annual freshwater fishing license for Washington residents is $29.50, while a deer hunting license for residents is $44.90.
A Discover Pass, valid for one year from the issue date and also available at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, offers motor vehicle access to millions of acres of state-managed recreation lands, including state parks, water access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads. The state Discover Pass is available online for $35, and also at fishing and hunting license dealers. Holders of annual hunting and fishing licenses do not need a Discover Pass to access lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, because they receive a free Vehicle Access Pass with their license.
Another idea: wildlife-themed license plates. Plates featuring a steelhead, bald eagle, orca, elk, mule deer or black bear are available for purchase at an additional cost to regular vehicle-licensing fees. Proceeds from the special license plates go to management of wildlife species. Personalized license plates are also available, with a choice of up to seven letters or numbers not already in use. Personalized plate proceeds help support management of non-hunted wildlife and can be combined with any background.
Purchasing information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/license_plates.
How about a book? “Living With Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest” is a 392-page guide to living with a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. It’s available for $25.
“Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest,” a 320-page guide to creating wildlife-friendly gardens, is available for $25. The books can be purchased at retail book outlets. Additional purchasing information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/book. Visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/backyard for details on Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Certification and learn how to create year-around habitat for birds and other wildlife. For $10, qualified recipients receive a designation sign, a certificate and an e-subscription to a monthly newsletter.
Maybe the angler on your list would like a new, hand-made fishing rod. Greg Rockenbach, of Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens, teaches rod-building classes from which your giftee carries away a high-quality, hand-made rod of his or her choice. Four evenings and $45 plus hardware. Some possibilities include tuna rods, downrigger rods, mooching rods, fly rods and a number of other choices. Visit www.gregscustomrods.com for more information and instructions on purchasing a gift card.
Mike Chamberlain, longtime owner of Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood (425-743-9505) offers three gift suggestions:
1. A Beckman landing net. “The best net on the market, hands down,” Chamberlain said of the upscale product. Heavy handles, rigid, capped both ends, all anodized, standard and catch-and-release styles, 4- and 6-foot lengths, models for bass and other fisheries, in the $70 to $110 range.
2. Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna scents. Standard, anise or garlic, oil or gel, first choice of salmon and kokanee anglers. Larger quantities are available, but most purchase the two-ounce container for $6 or $7. “Last year’s attempt at a downrigger scent didn’t fly,” Chamberlain said.
3. Vibrax “Candy Back” spinners. This is a hot item with coho anglers. It’s been out about a year and is going strong. Two-tone effect on one side, translucent “candy” finish on the underside (remember the “candy apple” red automotive finishes of your high school years?). Comes in four sizes, $4 to $6.
Sport fish records
Two state sport fish records fell during the last weekend of September, both taken by anglers fishing anchovies out of Westport. The 37.98-pound Opah (that weird, round fish) beat the old record by two pounds and was caught by Mike Benoit of Gig Harbor. The other record, a 71-inch, 49.5-pound blue shark, topped the old record by almost 22 pounds and was boated by Erik Holcomb of Lynden.