A cartoon-character fishing outfit is perfect for the future angler on your holiday gift list. What better way to introduce a child to the sport of fishing than by giving him or her a closed-face Spider Man, Mickey Mouse or Barbie rod and reel for Christmas? These plastic outfits are lightweight and made to fit the hands of youthful anglers. Better yet, they’re easy to cast and designed to be relatively backlash- and tangle-free.
Rod and reel combos can be purchased for less than $15. In addition, matching nets, tackle boxes, backpacks and other accessories are available. Not all closed-face combos are for children: The more expensive models are tough enough for the rigors of crappie, perch and bass fishing. Prices begin at $29.99.
Open-face spinning outfits are a better choice for older children or adult anglers. They can be used regardless of whether one fishes from shore or boat and in both salt and freshwater. This type of reel is mounted on the underside of the rod; the line spins off the spool. The reel is perfect for casting light lures long distances. The most popular models are designed to accommodate 8- or 10-pound test line and balance nicely when mounted to a light- to medium-action rod measuring 6 to 7 feet in length. Like the push-button outfits, prices vary, but combinations priced between $40 and $100 are of sufficient quality to meet the needs of most Lake Norman fishermen.
A bait-casting outfit is popular with those who fish for bass and hybrids. The reel has a spool that revolves when the line is cast. Bait-casting outfits are the perfect choice when accuracy is important or when bigger fish are being targeted. The price of a bait-casting rod and reel combination ranges from $50 to $100 or more.
It’s hard to buy a rod or reel for an experienced angler unless you know exactly what that person needs or wants. The purchase is easier to make if you know the size, make and model. Don’t try to second guess, or figure it out. If you aren’t sure, purchase a gift card.
If you are new to the sport, learning to cast a new fishing outfit can be a challenge. After reading the casting instructions and going online to watch casting demonstrations, proceed to the lawn or water and practice, practice, practice. It’s best to master the basics of casting before your first fishing trip.
An inexpensive plastic practice plug without a hook (less than $2) is perfect for making practice casts in the yard on Christmas morning.
Big white perch are hitting drifting minnows in water to 40 feet deep above the N.C. 150 bridge. Best bets are Stumpy Creek and in the river channel between markers 23 and 24. Spotted and hybrid striped bass are breaking the surface early and late in Mountain, Reed and McCrary creeks. Fool tournament size spots and largemouth bass by casting soft plastics under docks.
Gift idea: polarized sunglasses
Whether it’s clear or overcast, polarized lenses block out surface glare and allow you to see structure and fish that are underwater. Prices begin at $20.
Lake Norman is mostly clear, with surface water temperatures mainly in the high 50s and low 60s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.4 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.0 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.