Holiday Gifts For Houseboaters Who Fish

December 2010 Feature Dan Armitage

Whether an avid angler or someone who simply likes to wet a line from time to time, here are some gift ideas that any fisherman would welcome this-or any-time of year.

As I've written many times in the past: from kayaks to houseboats, the one accessory capable of transforming a mere pleasure boat into a capable fishing craft is a rod holder. And as with rods and reels and fishing lures, you can never have too many rod holders aboard a houseboat or fishing tender. With the variety of portable, clamp-on models available today, even a single "fishing pole perch" can serve able duty, allowing the angler to place the holder wherever and whenever one is needed during a particular fishing situation. Most houseboat decks offer square or round railings that serve as excellent bases for rod holders that feature mounts made for these applications and there are several styles of rail-mount, clamp-on holders available, some more portable than others.

Attwood ( has a new bolt-on rail-mount base for its popular Pro Series rod holder, which makes for a more secure installation that is still removable. Cabela's offers a simpler single screw-on base for their QuickDraw rod holders ($33 from, making it simple to mount and remove.


A new-in-2010 bolt-on base mount made for use on square railings makes the popular Pro Series rod holder from Attwood Marine a great option for anglers who want a more stable, longer term location for a rod holder that can still be repositioned or removed when not needed.    

Easy on and off is one of the features that makes the Cabela's QuickDraw rail mount rod holder a good choice for infrequent anglers who want to remove such accessories when they are not fishing.


Any fisherman who uses live bait can always use another minnow bucket, and one of the best has been around a long time. That's because Frabill's ( distinctive yellow and white Flow Troll bait bucket serves triple duty: it houses minnows topside, making them one-handed accessible via a lockable, spring-loaded lid, allows water to circulate through the bucket when it's suspended over the side, and even allows you to drag the cleverly designed, six-quart bait pail through the water when trolling or drifting.


Some of the most enjoyable fishing I do each season takes place after dark, when friends and family members gather at the stern of the houseboat and fish around a submerged light. The glow attracts baitfish and photo-plankton and eventually the predator fish that follow. There are a variety of portable underwater lights made for fishing, some powered by internal batteries, other models with clips that attach to battery on the boat, as well as others that have plugs to fit into a 12-volt accessory receptacle. Optronics has a line of submersible LED Fish-N-Lites that sell for $23-$40 ( The internal-battery-powered models are the most adaptable, but all work well, are fun to use and would be a welcome gift to any boat-owning angler I know.  


The stainless steel pliers from Rapala ( are a great choice if you are looking for a tool to help with those odd jobs on the boat. Constructed from stainless steel, the pliers resist rust and will stay beautiful for years. The pliers come with special features not found in other comparable tools and start around $11.


Who can't use an extra pair of sunglasses? Anglers especially are prone to shade loss when they look down into the water just long enough to allow their glasses to slip off their head and into the drink. And polarized glasses are even more important to boaters and anglers who need to cut the glare and see into the water. You can't go wrong giving the gift of (polarized) sight to any houseboater on your gift list.  


This time of year many of us are boating and fishing vicariously by reading magazines such as Houseboat or watching fishing shows on cable TV.  A better choice than the latter is reading about fishing and the records that have been set over the years. Big: The 50 World's Greatest World Record Catches by Mike Rivkin is a beautiful coffee table- style book with incredibly detailed illustrations of the very fish that set these amazing marks. Each comes with the tale of the catch, making for riveting off-season reading for any angler.   


And right now, reading may be as close as many of us get to actually angling!

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