With Christmas just days away, people are scrambling to get those last-minute gifts for their favorite outdoor enthusiast. There's no time to shop on the Internet. But no worries — numerous local businesses make high-quality outdoors gear.
• Hook Tribe traces its roots to the docks at Bay Pines Marina. Anglers Jesse Wilhelm, Dave Travis and Kyle Travis were looking for an image that would appeal to both fishermen and boaters. The hook motif, popular in Polynesian cultures, symbolizes safe passage. Hooktribe.com.
• Saltwater Empire Apparel of Indian Shores also makes high-tech fishing shirts. The "Rasta Grouper" is a one of the company's hottest sellers. The company also makes hats and clothes for kids. Founder Steve Westlake is a long-time fixture at Dogfish Tackle, which also sells its own brand of fishing hats and tees. saltwaterempireapparel.com.
• Another local line, Salinity, manufacturers a variety of saltwater gear, including long-sleeve tees, hoodies, hats and fish bags. Check the line out at salinitygear.com.
• If you think Guy Harvey had the fish art market cornered, think again. Pinellas native Jeremy Stock grew up fishing local waters and has a great line of custom fishing designs. His art can be seen on the T-shirts and programs for numerous fishing clubs and tournaments. See for yourself at jstockdesigns.com.
• And for great stocking stuffers, you cannot go wrong with a handful of MirrOlures. The Largo-based L&S Bait Company has been manufacturing high-quality, tournament-proven fishing lures for generations.
Every angler has their favorite, but you cannot go wrong with the 17MR or the new C36MR, "poppa Mullet" which can be fished like a popper or a surface walker. But do yourself a favor and stop by your local mom-and-pop bait and tackle shop and ask what's hot. What works in Tarpon Springs may not be the choice for Tierra Verde.
• If you are looking for a big present for that special someone, consider a paddleboard. There are literally hundreds of paddleboards on the market, but only a handful are well-suited for fishing.
LIVE watersports head honcho John Cleckner wanted a board that paddled well but was still stable enough for the long cast.
Cleckner designed a board that looks a little like an ocean-going catamaran. The boards, built in Clearwater, are fast, durable, yet still lightweight. Rumor has it that LIVE watersports is coming out with a 14-foot expedition board that would not only be ideal for tarpon but could also be packed with gear for a trip into the Everglades. Check them out at livewatersports.com.
• Other companies that make outdoors gear included Safety Harbor's Sawyer Products, manufacturers of excellent insect repellent and great water filters for backpackers gearing up for the Appalachian Trail. Waterford Press in Dunedin makes folding pocket guides which fit nicely in a day pack.
• Don't forget your favorite scuba diver. St. Petersburg's Sea Vision sells prescription dive masks and goggles, Clearwater's Big Blue makes underwater flashlights and Largo's Spearfishing Specialties builds the best spear guns on the market.
So shop now and shop local. These are just a few of the companies that support local tournaments, fishing clubs and charter boat captains. They make great gear and give back to the community and a variety of local conservation causes. Show your support and keep them going.
Terry Tomalin can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8808.