Our Christmas traditions

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Steve Bowman

I have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas, and I have to say that having my family together tops the list. My oldest daughter Aly went off to college this year and even though she’s still in Oklahoma, it’s been an adjustment not having her at home.

She’ll get in a few days before Christmas, so she’ll be with us for our traditional gatherings. We usually spend Christmas Day at my parents’ house and then we spend the evening at our house. We keep it pretty casual and enjoy a lot of good home cooking with plenty of venison in the mix. 

Aly has already told me that she wants to spend a lot of time in the gym, working on her shooting. My youngest daughter Jaslyn and I have already been spending time in the gym, but when Aly gets here, things will get a little more serious. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just that Aly brings a higher level of intensity.

I think that’s something Jaclyn wants too. I know that since Aly hasn’t been home in a couple of months, I think everybody — me, my parents — we’re all ready for her to come home.

Of course, Christmas gifts are a nice part of this holiday, and I got mine over the weekend. Sunday was the first day I took my new boat to the lake. I spent three hours driving it to break in the engine, and then I spent a good amount of time dialing in the electronics and making sure everything is set the way I like it.

Now that I have the preliminary work done, I may get out fishing a little more. It’s hard for me to just go fishing before I check off these important steps, so it’s good to know I have everything as it should be.

Although most of my family is pretty well burned out on hunting, I’m still chasing a few. But now that my boat is properly broken in and dialed in, I’ll start splitting up my time. I’ll spend high-pressure days deer hunting and low-pressure days fishing.

I am pretty excited about a few changes in my boat’s equipment and accessories. I can’t talk about it until after the first of the year, but these items will definitely improve my overall effectiveness on the water.

When it comes to gift buying for anglers, I’ll tell you, it’s tough. We have such an incredible amount of options these days, it’s even hard for me to find something for my dad. It’s gotten so challenging, I usually end up buying a gift card.

But here’s an idea: Garmin recently introduced a new line of budget-conscious units called echoMAPS Plus. These chart plotter/sonar combos offer all the tools you need to find fish and structure, but the larger units also support Garmin Panoptix transducers. 

With one of these units, you’d have pretty much the same stuff I have on my boat, with a lower cost. A lot of people have heard about the Panoptix technology, but for the guy who fishes two or three times a month, it may be hard to justify the expense of units like the ones I use. Now, you have an option that would make a nice Christmas present without too much strain on your budget.