The holidays are my favorite time of year. And when I say “the holidays” I mean that stretch of eating season that kicks off with the high of a sugar rush on Halloween, plows through the mashed potatoes and gravy over turkey of Thanksgiving, mows down dozens of fresh baked cookies that pile up at work, at home, and just about everywhere else at Christmas before it wraps up with the champagne bubbles of New Year’s Eve – the one night of the year that isn’t walleye opener where I’m still awake at midnight. These festive – and filling – days with family and friends are made all the merrier with various hunting trips, first ice adventures and other outdoor activities thrown in, and celebrating the height of the holiday season just wouldn’t be right without a little sparkle, in the form of hand-crafted lures I’ve put together to share with everyone around the Christmas tree.
Burl Ives sung of “silver and gold” in the classic Christmas movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and while these colors are staples on nearly every roll of walleye spinners that head out my door for friends and family this time of year, there’s more to it than just these precious metals. The joy of making various crawler harnesses for openwater fishing to give as gifts (and remind us all that the days are getting longer again) comes from the ability to customize each roll of snells to a particular angler’s preferences, or what works best on nearby waters. For my brother-in-law, it’s reds, golds and deep purples for the tannin-stained waters of northeastern Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion. For my brother, I load him up with chartreuses for our home water of Lake Ashtabula and pinks and silvers for Detroit Lakes. For the younger anglers who’ve been good this year, its anything with flash and foil in eye-catching colors to spark their imagination of the big ones being on the bite.
While we’re focused on the season at hand, it’s nice to know there’s a spring at the end of a long winter that has just gotten underway. A popular stocking stuffer for those on my Christmas list is a selection of crappie jigs tied up with flashy skirts in the pastel hues of chartreuse, pearl, and pink which remind us as much of spring as they do of the twinkling lights on every tree and house up and down the block. Again, customization of colors is a fun way to tailor each offering to the angler and where and what they fish, and the sparkling krystal flash tails remind a person of a comet ready to streak through the water and draw in some fish.
Finally, the jingle jangle of muskie spinners and bucktails for one particular angler on my list is always a given. Whatever flashabou I have at the end of the season becomes part of a big-bait stocking stuffer that always seems to find success the following summer. With silver beads and blades banging and clanging in the leftover wrapping paper tube I store them in to cover up the big treble hooks, it’s tough to not know what Saint Nick has in store – particularly when my brother has gotten used to receiving at least one of these big fish baits each of the past few Christmases. It’s a tradition that I know keeps his muskie fever at bay, at least until the big springtime expo in the cities rolls around.
Beyond allowing me to dream up the offerings I want to try on the water in the coming seasons, lure making has given me the option to provide one-of-a-kind gifts for almost any angler at this time of year. I encourage you to take up the hobby and give others (and maybe even yourself) a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…in our outdoors.