Santa's LITTLE Helper

Yep, it's that time of year again - time to get ready for Christmas. For most of you, it's too cold to get out and fish, so you might as well embrace the season.

The Christmas season starts way too early for me each year. Once the Halloween candy is gone, that's too early for me to be hearing Christmas songs. But, as I write this, my wife is decorating the tree and Alvin is out of tune, again. The other day when I was in a Sam's Club, they had some sort of 3' cedar-tree-looking-thing for sale. I didn't pay much attention to the tree, but that smell was *it*. So, in my travels through the TV's and free food samples, I stopped by the produce and caught a big whiff of tangerines. All I need to do now is buy a pack of firewood at the grocery store and my nasal confirmation of Christmas will be complete.

I missed out on "Small Business Saturday", which followed "Black Friday", which followed "Thanksgiving Thursday". This was a Saturday where shoppers were encouraged to give the small business cash registers a workout, because Heaven knows, the big boys had no problem getting customers to camp out for a week in order to get a deal on a TV or computer. With that being said, let's celebrate the little guy, and take them into consideration when we perform our yuletide swipes and clicks.


Whether you fish from a canoe, a kayak or a hybrid, you need a paddle. I'm a Hobie guy and I absolutely still need a paddle. For a moment, we all are one.

I have a weakness for nice things crafted from wood. Furniture, guitars, cutting boards, floors, boats, you name it. After all my years I've learned that having one really nice thing far outweighs the personal value of 3 adequate things. As I browsed the paddle section on I found a number of paddle makers, and luckily discovered this little treasure. I then walked across the room and put my socks back on. OK, that's not really true. We don't wear socks in Florida - it's just a clever way to prove a point.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Whiskey Jack paddles. The picture below is the Whiskey Apostle kayak paddle. It's available in several lengths, and can be personalized for an additional $15. Take a breath, and let this craftsmanship wash over you.

You owe it to yourself to check out their website because this paddle is just a tease (

The canoe paddles and stand up paddleboard paddles are equally breathtaking. They are handcrafted by Danny Brown in Whitefish, Montana. On the website Danny states: "I've been an avid woodworker and avid paddler for many years and several years ago decided to combine my two passions (kinda like chocolate and peanut butter.)" I really can't add much to that. I mean, what's not to love?

OK, I can add one more thing. I had the Fender Custom Shop build me a guitar a number of years ago (1995). The day it arrived, before I ever plugged it in to an amp, I took out my keys and made a *tiny* scratch on the back of it. My buddies at the music store just about fainted. But, I knew this guitar would be used, played, and enjoyed. The result of that use almost always shows up as a scratch or dent - character if you will. I wasn't concerned with what a scratch would do to the guitar's resale value because it would never be sold. Likewise, you may be thinking that this paddle is too pretty to use. Not so. Danny simply states "Use it. Abuse it. Varnish it." and then goes on to provide simple repair instructions.

I'm not a big fan of gift cards, but trust me, I don't think any paddler (angler or not) would mind getting a gift card from Danny. And, much like my Custom Shop Fender, this is a conversation piece that will be cherished for many years, not to mention performance that can only be found in a hand crafted item.

There is a fine line between having art on the wall and having a fish on the wall. This may be the happy middle ground. I present to you the work of Patrick Carew, Clearwater, Florida.

These pieces are just a sampling of his offerings. They are made of brushed aluminum, and are roughly 17" long. He does custom work as well, providing auto-cad mock-ups before the piece is made. This may be one of the most affordable gifts you can give an angler. Shoot him an e-mail to inquire about pricing and any custom work requests (Contact Patrick Carew

PADDLING.NET GIFT IDEAS: Every year I always like to close this issue with a grateful nod to the folks that bring you this newsletter. They provide a wealth of information to paddlers, anglers, and those lost souls in the middle known as paddle anglers (that'd be us). Aside from warehousing all that knowledge on the website, you can also find great deals on all sorts of gear, including Christmas items. Start your shopping here: Store

I've had these ornaments for a number of years now, and they always collect attention. I promise you, if you have any of this on your tree, regardless of how dense your decorating goes, it will get noticed. I actually use these to decorate my office at work, because being a paddler is something that we don't really hide. Either folks do it, or they wish they could do it.

Face it, a staple of Christmas gift giving is the calendar. We all will need a new one, and even if you have the smartest of smart phones and all of its time management features, sometimes it's just nice to look at a calendar. And for us, this is about as good as it gets - the 2012 calendar. Here is a sample page.

As you shop the Store you will find all sorts of deals and specials.
Shop early - shop often.

As this year runs out of time, keep in mind that sincerely given "time" is the greatest gift you can give to those you care about. That is a gift that will certainly be returned, and returned, and returned.

Merry Christmas from all of us at

See you out on the water … 

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after"
~ Henry David Thoreau

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