Each year I go over my list of the best Christmas gifts for the angler in your family. Cast nets, rods, reels, lures and the like always lead the way and I hope when you go looking for those things you begin at your neighborhood bait and tackle shop.
There you will find expert help in picking out the right gift. Make no mistake, finding the best gift for a serious fisherman requires a little expertise. These days the array of fishing tackle available will be mind boggling to any novice, but at a bait shop you will find competent help. Many of those stores can also help with the ultimate gift -- a guided fishing trip.
If your fisherman has never been with a local guide he or she is missing a great time. Fishing with a professional is also a valuable learning experience. No matter what type of fishing you enjoy, Volusia County has a guide for you.
Offshore you will take part in bottom fishing for snapper, grouper and sea bass or maybe trolling for sailfish, wahoo or mackerel.
If you book a trip at the right time of year, you may even get into schools of tasty dolphin fish. In the inshore we have a cadre of some of the finest redfish guides in the nation. Guides from Flagler County south to Oak Hill are ready to help you do battle with the world class red drum that live in our coastal waters. Guides will instruct you on the proper rigging, tackle, baits and locations for success. This is especially valuable to newcomers to the area. New arrivals that hope to get a jumpstart on area methods should all begin with a guided trip.
In the western part of the county, professional guides are there to help you find that St. Johns River lunker largemouth bass that you have dreamed of. The miles of streams and lakes there also provide great fly-fishing.
In Volusia, we have several guides that will take you on fly-fishing trips in either the fresh or brackish waters. Also, in the western part of the county, you will find some of the best crappie fishing in the world. On an average trip, you will catch speckled perch (Florida crappie) that would be a state record in most northern states. Two pounds is average, but a four-pound crappie is not all that rare. Call the guides of West Volusia for the very best in speck fishing.
If your fishermen are avid readers of this column (and of course they are), you might consider a Christmas gift of some of my favorite Grandslam Baits. Every reader knows that at least 90 percent of my catch comes in by way of the soft shrimp tails provided by the Grandslam Bait Co. of Edgewater. If you were to combine that selection of lures with my book "I Swear The Snook Drowned" and then add a guided trip -- well come Christmas morning you may have to perform CPR on your happy angler.
Look for my fishing book as well as my local history book "The World's Greatest Beach" at the Ormond Beach Historical Society, 38 E. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach, or at The Halifax Historical Museum on Beach Street in downtown Daytona Beach. You may also pick up copies of both at The Book Shelf at 99 S. U.S. 1, Ormond Beach. That little shop is also crammed with the best selection of used fiction paperbacks in the area. Picking a gift for a fisherman is always easy. There is lots of great stuff to buy. I hope I have given you a little nudge in the right direction. Good shopping!
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.