Sunday is Father's Day, a good time to get dear old dad a new tie, a new tackle box or a new depth finder.
Since I stopped wearing neckties 10 years ago (I'm professional enough), I can only speak on tackle boxes and depth finders.
Generally, I would not recommend purchasing a tackle box as a gift unless the recipient is new to fishing. It doesn't take long for an angler to develop a good idea of the best way to carry his fishing stuff. It may be Zip-Loc bags, a back pack, a series of cardboard boxes or a tackle box that suits his particular needs.
Recently, I discovered the Plano model 1232 Tackle Racker and a similar, small-parts storage unit also made by Plano that offer a great deal of flexibility. Most tackle boxes are designed with a specific type of fishing in mind. Bass fishing tackle boxes are usually different from boxes for bluefish anglers. The model 1232, however, is quite adaptable and could be used for just about anything.
The 1232 is a plastic box housing three 13-by-9-by-2-inch boxes and two 8-by-4-inch boxes. The medium and small boxes fit like )) trays in the plastic housing. The medium-size boxes may be configured with four to 24 compartments, offering the maximum in flexibility.
If you shop around, you can find the 1232 for less than $20. I saw it last at the Sports Authority in Glen Burnie.
Plano also makes a similar parts-storage unit. The plastic housing holds four of the medium-size boxes. These boxes appear to be the same size as those used in the model 1232, but come in different configurations, from four to 24 compartments. This unit runs about half the price of the Model 1232 and works well for holding everything from screws to bucktail-size lures. I have one unit for boat parts and one for fishing lures.
For those who plan to purchase a depth finder for their father or husband, I would recommend the Lowrance LMS-150. The LMS-150 is an extremely flexible unit, which for a few dollars more is also a Loran-C receiver and a plotter -- three marine electronic units for about the price of two and the size of one.
One of the biggest problems on a small boat is finding room to install your marine electronics. The LMS-150 takes only as much room as a small to medium-size depth finder, and is a great space saver.
I've used the depth finder portion of the LMS-150 since early last fall. It has a liquid crystal display and enough bells and whistles to keep any computer hacker happy. You can operate in the automatic mode, where the unit makes all the decisions for you, or you can tailor the display to your liking.
The display is crisp, with sufficient resolution to determine what is being reflected by the sonar signal. I found no difficulty identifying bait fish from game fish.
This spring, I added the temperature probe, speedometer and the Loran-C elements to the unit. The plotter works in conjunction with the Loran-C. I found the Loran-C to be stable even a half mile off Greenbury Point, the naval transmitter site that makes the Annapolis area the worst Loran-C environment in the country.
The Loran-C unit holds 100 way points, or locations. It is relatively user-friendly and, when used in conjunction with the plotter, a very nice toy.
If you call up a way point to navigate to and push the plotter button, you will see a dotted line from your location toward the way point. When you approach the way point, you will see a doughnut on the screen, marking the way point. As you proceed from the starting location, your course is also displayed on the screen, so you can see whether you are going in the right direction. Very clever and quite handy.
Last month, I marked a school of rockfish I found out in the open. I called the way point of the school, pushed the plotter button and just steered for the doughnut. Every time we went over the doughnut, we picked up a fish.
For some reason, few marine electronic dealers in the Annapolis area carry Lowrance equipment. Boater's World in Annapolis, for one, does. You can see the unit at PopTronics on Light Street in Baltimore.
The basic unit, which includes transducer, temperature and speed, sells for around $600. The Loran-C module is about an additional $230.
Lowrance will soon come out with a GPS-150, a similar unit, but instead of Loran-C, the unit will use satellite geo-position technology. I suspect the initial cost on this will be a little high, but in time it should be most affordable.
Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-registered charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.