Mississippi Gulf Coast — When asking about the perfect gift for the avid fishermen, the first question a sales person at a sporting goods store is going to ask is, “How much do you want to spend?”
There are gifts for any budget. You can start out on the low end simply by buying nippers (a cutting tool) with a lanyard to hang around the neck. Or you can spend literally thousands on the dream rod and reel.
Richard Schmidt, owner of Chandeleur Outfitters, Ocean Springs, said his suggestion for a good gift that most fishermen won’t buy themselves is a casting shirt.
“This is the number one thing to buy a man he won’t buy himself,” Schmidt said. “Men won’t spend $40 to $50 for a shirt they will get nasty and slimy. But it works like sunscreen. All of them have the equivalent of SPF 30 on them. It keeps the sun off of them, and dries quickly. But by shading the body, it keeps the sun from eating you up. It allows you to be out there longer without getting drained by the sun.”
A suggestion for fly fishermen is fly line. Usually fly fishermen will try to get by with their old line for as long as they can because the line is expensive. So extra fly line is a good idea. Just make sure you know the right kind of line to get.
Another idea is supplies for saltwater fly fishing, a sport that is becoming increasingly popular on the Coast. Schmidt said they sell a lot of beginning outfits.
“The more people who do it, the better,” he said. “It is just a different way to catch fish that is a little more challenging and very fun.”
If you are looking for an upscale gift, consider one of the better rods and reels. While it is hard to believe, the National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that approximately $17.8 million is spent annually on saltwater rods and reels in Mississippi, and another $11 million goes towards other saltwater tackle.
Schmidt said when you get into the expensive rods, it can be difficult to guess what the fisherman wants.
“If someone is going to buy a $500 to $600 rod, they want to go cast it and make sure it is the right one,” Schmidt said. “So the best thing to do for someone like that is to get them a gift certificate for a rod, or to apply towards a rod.”
Pete Umbdenstock, president of Pete’s Electric Service in Gulfport and a founding father of the Coastal Conservation Association of Mississippi, says there is no doubt that the high-end rods and reels are better.
“Absolutely, the high-end stuff is better,” Umbdenstock said. “It is quality made. Essentially the more money you spend on these high-end rods, the lighter it is. If you are out on the water all day casting a thousand times, it makes a difference at the end of the day.”
Umbdenstock said fishermen typically start out with cheap stuff. Then they buy a decent rod, and then need a good reel to put on the rod.
“Very few people just getting in it will buy this high-end stuff,” said Umbdenstock, who has extensively fished Mississippi’s inshore waters and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. “But you kind of migrate to it. Quite frankly, I don’t use much of that high-end stuff. I have some, but I don’t take good care of my rods. I’ll slam it into the truck door or step on it in the bottom of the boat. I have thrown rods overboard more than once by mistake. So I buy $100 rods instead of $300 rods.”
Hitting the Coastal Waters
Pete Umbdenstock of Pete’s Electric Service in Gulfport, with the assistance of Tim and Tony Deas, owners of Sports Unlimited of Gulfport and avid inshore fishermen, compiled the following list of recommendations for fishing rods and reels to be used in coastal waters.
Inshore conventional bait casting for speckled trout, flounder, etc.:
• Penn 955 International reel ($220) on a St Croix AVIS ASRC100M rod ($230). The
set is around $450
• Shimano Calcutta CTE200DC reel ($500) mounted on a G Loomis GLX/MBR783C
rod ($345). The set is around $845.
Spinning tackle for inshore species.
• Shimano Stella STL2500FA spinning reel ($500) on a Fenwick HMG rod ($175), or matched with a G Loomis GLX SUR965S rod ($230). The set runs from $675 to $830.
Conventional bait casting or light trolling for cobia, amberjack or king mackerel, etc.:
• Penn Formula 15LD reel ($200) on a Quantum Cabo PT CBOC70M rod ($200). The set is bout $400.
• Shimano Trinidad TN30 Reel ($420) on a Shimano Tallus TLC58XH SB Rod ($150). The set is about $570.
Offshore spinning tackle for cobia, kings, etc.:
• Daiwa Saltiga SA-Z6000 Spinning Reel ($800) matched with a Cape Fear Advance Tech EXT200-70S ($400). The set is about $1200.
Serious blue water big game trolling:
• Penn International 130ST ($1200) on a Penn International V 5130B 130 Rod ($575). The set is about $1780.
• Shimano Tiagra T130 reel ($1200) mounted on a Cape Fear IGFA CT-IGFA130C Rod ($1600). The set is about $2800.
For the fly fisherman:
• Leed Loop Evotech 8/11 reel ($500) with a G. Loomis Cross Currents FR10812- 4CCGLX Rod ($725). The set is about $1225.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com.