Carolyn Ellis was vocally expressing her disdain for the annual woes of 

Christmas shopping when I walked up behind her at the check-out register.“I wish I’d have seen you while I was digging through all of those lures,” she said.“I also have a stocking filler list, but I don’t know a jerk bait from a popping cork and I don’t even know where to start.” It didn’t appear to me, however, that the gifts she had settled on would disappoint even the most discerning fisherman.The rod she had picked out would easily top the $300 mark and the Shimano reel was a bargain at another $289! “It looks like Carl won’t be disappointed Christmas morning,” I 

offered.“I know he has wanted that seven foot custom rod for a long time.How did you know that was the model he wanted?” “I have no idea what he wants or doesn’t want,” she replied.“I buy him a rod that he wouldn’t buy for himself every Christmas and a new rain suit every three years.I don’t have to worry about size or color and he can exchange it without hurting anyone’s feelings.”

“New rods are kind of like those Pandora bracelet charms that save the day for men,” she added with a smile. “They don’t have any really good rain suits in Carl’s size here and I learned a long time ago to not skimp on rain gear.He hunts almost every day of duck season and wears it when he fishes.I duck hunted with him years ago just enough to know sitting there shivering is the pits.”

Carolyn was right on the money with her assessment, but her hubby might  not be as frugal as she seems to think when he decides he really needs a particular rod.The good news is that you cannot go wrong buying any fisherman a new rod.For my money, the value in purchasing a custom rod is more about building a memory than added functionality.Christmas is one of those 

occasions, but in most cases you can purchase two quality stock rods for the cost of a single custom rod and the warranty is equally good if not better. I have fished with Laguna Custom Rods for years, but the majority of my rods are not Custom wrapped rods.I always carry at least one to show off Chris Williamson’s handiwork, but the remainder of my arsenal consists 

of only his stock Liquid Series rods. The Liquid Series rods are built on the exact same blanks in the same actions and retail for half the cost of his Custom sticks.The only thing  better than a new rod for Christmas is two new rods! Purchasing a rod and reel or even wading your way through aisles of  everything from jerk baits to popping corks is much easier when shopping 

at a local tackle shop rather than a department store.Having someone available to answer your questions saves lots of time while improving your odds of making the right decisions.

Steve Simmons can answer most of your questions over at Outcast Tackle in Groves and Rambo’s in Orange has a wide assortment of fish catching tackle. Both stores can minimize the time spent running the roads hoping  for the best. Way too much rain fell in only a few hours Friday night, but the runoff has proven to be little more than another bump in the road for the more persistent local fishermen.In spite of the significantly dirtier water the bite has held up provided you can get out of the wind. There is no doubt that this has been an incredibly tough year for the  trout enthusiasts, but over the past few months it has been more about  the fishermen than the fish.While catching a trout in excess of six pounds is still a happening, the numbers bite has steadily improved. It hasn’t been the user-friendly bite that requires little more than locating the right flock of gulls, but the more patient anglers, especially those that choose to wade are catching enough trout to keep them coming back. Corkies, Softdines and hard plastic lures like the Mirrodine and Catch V have been the most productive choices.Easily, the best advice I can provide is to not equate dirty water with fresh water.When the salinity 

is adequate the strike zone shrinks, but the fish are still there and they have to eat!