The holidays are here, and it’s time for gift-giving, or more importantly, dropping some serious hints to your loved ones about what’s on your list.

If you are serious about the outdoors, you are serious about your equipment.

Many people believe the term “hunter-gatherer” refers to ancient, nomadic tribes who subsisted off the land. I believe it actually refers to the modern sportsman, those of us who never seem to have enough or just the right piece of gear. We are constantly “hunting and gathering” for the latest and greatest compound bow or graphite rod, or a tried and true Mitchell 308 spinning reel or slightly used canoe.

Since winter is way too long in Maine to spend solely indoors, this holiday season get ready for ice fishing, and get your family and friends outdoors fishing.

Every ice angler could use some new quality ice traps. Most likely, you’ve been fishing way too long with plastic ones you purchased on sale many years ago at Laverdiere’s. It is time to upgrade.

My two favorite styles of traps are both made in Maine, the Heritage Lakers and Jack’s Traps. They are made with quality hardwoods and hardware, and they are built to last. I have one for larger, toothy fish such as pike and pickerel, and the others are set up for salmon and trout.

Each type has different features that I find appealing. The Heritage Lakers have a large reel with an adjustable drag that works well with big baits. Jack’s Traps fold into themselves, which make taking out the traps at the end of a long, cold day particularly enjoyable, even when you can no longer feel your fingers.

For the past several years, I have been purchasing one tip-up for each of my children every Christmas. My goal is that when they leave the house, they will have five traps of their own to use for years to come. It is my hope that each time they go ice fishing with these traps, they will think of the fun we had fishing together. So far, I am really enjoying these traps I bought for them.

So what if you already have five traps (or more) and are wondering what else to put on your list I mean, buy for someone else?

Jigging rods come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Once again, I have two types that I like. One is a jig stick, really nothing more than a piece of wood, about a foot long, with an eye on one end and grooved wood for winding your line on the other end. The other is a short fiberglass rod, with a simple reel, and a spring bobber at the end.

The jig stick packs easily and is durable, and therefore it is always is in my pack basket. I often drill extra holes when I ice fish, and move around jigging if the fishing is slow. I like the fiberglass rod with the spring bobber tip, since it can detect even small subtle strikes such as the bite of crappie and smelts.

Already have a jigging rod? You are not going to have much luck unless your bait is lively, so add a battery-operated aerator to your list. Cool, oxygenated water is the key to keeping bait happy, and a battery-operated aerator will keep blowing bubbles for up to 30 hours. You can even purchase (I mean ask for) a bait bucket that has a hose hole and an aerator clip on the lid for portable aerators.

Of course, you will need something to carry all this new gear, so why not a new pack basket or ice fishing sled?

Both come in a variety of sizes, but I would caution you on asking for one that is too large. Despite years of advancement in pack technology, the Maine Pack Basket is a throwback, with unpadded shoulder straps. Pack it to the brim at the risk of sacrificing circulation in your arms. Ask for an extra large sled, and you will be dragging a sled that has your traps and auger and most likely your children as well.

So how good have you been this year? If you have been less than angelic, perhaps instead of you, maybe your significant other would like a new four-stroke power ice augers. They are lightweight, and you don’t need to pre-mix your gas with oil. Sick and tired of all the noise and fumes when you are drilling holes? Perhaps your loved one would like an electric auger. Charge it at night, and you are set for the day.

Don’t worry about running out of power, you can also hook right up to the power supply on your ATV or snowmobile.

And no holiday list would be complete without stocking stuffers. Bait nets, sounders, split-shots, needle-nose pliers, Swedish Pimples, and ice creepers are all items that can fit into your stocking, I mean, can be placed alongside the chimney with care.

While winter in Maine may be long, the holiday shopping season is not. Take time to get ready for the ice fishing season, and remember that gifts enjoyed year after year in the outdoors are truly the gifts that keep on giving.

Mark Latti is a former public information officer for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a registered Maine Guide. He can be reached at:

[email protected]