"Captain Bob," asked Eli, "will you talk to a girl who works downstairs about some fishing equipment?"
"Sure, Eli, I'll talk to a pretty girl about anything, including fishing tackle," I replied.
A few moments later a young woman came to my desk. She said a friend of her husband gave her some model numbers and prices for a rod and reel her husband wanted for Christmas. She went to a sporting goods store (one I had never heard of) that gave her the run-around.
The clerk said the equipment she wanted was junk, although the outfit cost about $150. The reel, the clerk said, was no good and the rod tip kept breaking. As he had neither item in stock, he suggested two other items that cost even more.
The woman was smart enough to do nothing. I knew mechanics ripped off women, my wife included, but I never thought I'd find a tackle shop doing it. This shop, however, sold other merchandise too, so it wasn't a pure tackle shop; I hope that made the difference.
After asking a few questions about the type of fishing her husband did, I sent her to a good shop that I knew would treat her right.
We all have tackle and bait shops that take care of us during the fishing season, and now is the time of year you can show your appreciation.
Do as much of your Christmas shopping there as you can.
If you are hoping that Santa will bring you a fishing toy, make certain your shop has it in stock. Then get the model number and price for your note to Santa.
Many of the shops carry non-traditional outdoor items at Christmas that make excellent gifts for both men and women.
I stopped by Anglers Sport Center on Route 50 near the Bay Bridge the other day because one of my Santas was having a problem finding something for my stocking.
Anglers is one of the three outdoor shops that get the bulk of my outdoor dollars throughout the year. Clyde's Sport Shop on Hammonds Ferry Road and Warren's Bait Box on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard are the other two.
Clyde's and Warren's specialize more in traditional fishing and hunting equipment. Anglers also carries a large selection of attractive outdoor wear. I'm still wearing a Pendleton sport coat and a Woolrich "wax-look" parka from last year's Christmas, so I didn't need much. I did, however, find a pair of bright orange suspenders that will be great for the upcoming fishing shows.
I spotted piles of other nifty Christmas gifts at Anglers: warm inner- and outer-wear clothing; fishing gear, from fly fishing to tackle for big, blue-water game fish; and black-powder weapons and accessories.
If you're having a hard time thinking of something for Santa to put under your tree, go down to your favorite tackle shop and begin taking notes. If you are getting the information for your wife, remember she may be traveling in strange country when she enters a tackle shop. Get her all the information, including size, color, price and any other distinguishing marks that will make the purchase easier.
* In what must be considered an indicator of a slowing economy and further softening of the marine market, NYNEX Information Resources is discontinuing seven of its Boaters Directories, including the Chesapeake Bay directory.
The NYNEX Boaters Directory was a yellow pages of area facilities and included small charts, tidal tables and general information. Many local marine-related industries, from charter boat captains to marine insurance firms, advertised in it. It was a handy volume to have on board because you could look up the services you needed and call them via marine radio-telephone.
The discontinued editions are: New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay, Florida Gold Coast/Keys, Florida Gulf Coast, Southern California, Northern California and Pacific Northwest. NYNEX will continue to publish the New England Coastal and New York/Connecticut editions.
If you picked up a 1991 edition at the Annapolis power or sailboat shows in October, hold on to it. It is the last Chesapeake Bay edition and will soon be a collector's item.
Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.