Christmas Shopping Suggestions
By Tim Mead    December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas Shopping Suggestions   By Tim Mead

The following article is copyrighted by Tim Mead and may not be duplicated or reproduced without his expressed written permission

Getting close to the time we need to head to the mall or dive into catalogs to find the “perfect gift” for our friends interested in outdoor activities.   Here are some suggestions.

Winter is coming, so lots of us will be doing some reading.   Daniel Bagur, an English ichthyologist, wrote Where the Fish Are: An Angler’s Guide to Fish Behavior.   Bagur’s book is easy to read and highlights fish senses and how they impact behavior of interest to angler; worth the read.

Ted Leeson, recently retired from the English Department at Oregon State University, wrote Inventing Montana.   This book describes Leeson’s many years spent, a month at a time, fishing the Madison River near Ennis, Montana.   Leeson and a floating gallery of friends have rented a large house south of Ennis.   While Leeson hints the book is about Montana, more profoundly it is Leeson’s gradual and gentle self-discovery.

Trout anglers from the southeast should get a copy of Jim Casada’s Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; An Insider’s Guide to a Pursuit of Passion.   Casada, born in the North Carolina mountains has devoted a lifetime to fishing in the Smokies.   Here he shares the history, lore and techniques for taking the game fish of the Park.   Folks who know Casada will be able to hear his voice as they read.

Roderick L. Haig-Brown’s classic A River Never Sleeps has been re-issued.   This is not only a fishing classic but a literary one as well.

Though not a new book, Thomas McGuane’s The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing is also a classic.   McGuane is among the best contemporary writers, fiction and non-fiction, in The United States.   If you read The Longest Silence you will know why.

Among the most useful bits of gear I bought this year is a pair of pants, the Boundary Waters Pants from Piragis, the Ely, Minnesota outfitter.   These pants are designed for use by canoeists traveling in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and Ontario’s adjacent Quetico Park. I wear mine in many other spots.   The fabric is a blend of cotton and nylon.   Unlike cotton jeans, they dry rapidly.   Unlike nylon a spark from a campfire does not make a hole.   Boundary Waters Pants are double fabric at the knees and butt, right where outdoor adventurers need extra wear.   Knees, butt and groin areas are spacious.   The treated fabric is not waterproof but it does shed water and resist stain.

Another bit of new gear, suggested by a friend, is SmartWool for socks.   A check of the SmartWool website ( revealed that the hiking socks I bought are not the only variety of socks nor that socks are all the company makes.   Like traditional wool socks, the SmartWool socks insulate from both hot and cold, are breathable, and they don’t itch.   Lots of cushioning.   Machine wash and dry.   Go to the website, click on locations, enter a zip code and nearby vendors will be listed.   REI and Sierra Trading Post supply SmartWool socks for on-line purchasers.

Those who know me well know that I get cold before most folks.   Last September, camping in Montana, I got so cold I used two sleeping bags on the same night.   At the Southeastern Outdoor Press conference, I saw a Browning Denali sleeping bag.   Had to have it!   The bag I purchased is rated for 0 degrees.    It’s heavier and wider than a backpacker’s bag, but ideal for truck camping.   A few nights ago, I slept in the bag in the low 30’s and was warm all night long.   It has substantial chest and zipper baffles to eliminate cool breezes.   I never thought I would like a mummy-style bag, but I did; I did not pull the head tight, but it sure provided space for me to snuggle down and keep my head warm.   More detail, including vendors can be found at the ALPS Mountaineering website.

A couple of years ago my son and I were fly fishing for pike in northern Saskatchewan.   Craig broke his rod and we did not have a backup.   Seeking a modest priced backup, I purchased a Temple Forks Outfitter rod.   It comes with a lifetime guarantee.   This past spring I used it extensively and it compared favorably with much more expensive gear.   At a link will lead you to nearby dealers.

Anglers interested in new lures would appreciate selections from the Sebile line.   Patrick Sebile founded the company in 2006 and has concentrated in innovative design.   A quick check of the website,, will reveal striking new lures and colors.   I have not used all the Sebile lures, but I can attest the Flatt Shad lipless crankbait is deadly on smallmouth bass.   Gordy Johnson, while fishing with me, caught a bunch of smallmouth on the Slim Stick.   While fishing with Pete Maina in Saskatchewan I caught a 46-inch pike (among many others) on a Stick Shad jerkbait and Pete caught a 40-inch plus pike trolling a Koolie Minnow.

Adventure travelers risk injury in the back country. Rescue would be nice. Last spring I bought SPOT. SPOT is a GPS satellite locator. From places where there is no cell phone service, SPOT can send a message to selected e-mail addresses, for example to a spouse or friend saying, “I’m OK,” or an SOS message to rescue personnel indicating trouble and the latitude and longitude of the trouble.   Since I purchased my unit, SPOT has combined the Delorme to produce a device, PN-60W, that allows brief text messages as well.   For hikers, backpackers, anglers, hunters, virtually anyone who spends time alone, a SPOT would be a welcome addition to the gear box.   Purchase locations can be found at

Losing sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses can be a real bummer.   Done it and I know.   Floateyes Lite are adjustable and floatable eyewear cords.   A couple of these would make ideal stocking stuffers.   Check at

Disclaimer: Sebile has supplied a variety of lures.   Browning offered a professional discount on the purchase of the sleeping bag.


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           Last updated on ...March 5, 2011