The Ultimate Fishing Show

6 01 2013

In the words of Mr. Incredible…….”It’s Showtime”.

Winter is a tough time for a soft water walleye fisherman.  Not a whole lot to do except get things ready for the start of the next season.  One of the things I like to do to help pass the time (which seems like forever) is attend fishing shows.  The first one and probably the largest is The Ultimate fishing Show at the Suburban Showplace Center in Novi.  The Downriver Walleye Federation has a booth at this show every year and I volunteer to work the booth on Friday night (1/11/13) with my father every year.  It gives me a chance to catch up with fellow walleye fanatics and people I generally don’t see over the course of the year.  The other advantage to working the booth is that it gives me an opportunity to check out all the new gadgets that have come out.  You know, all those items I never knew existed but now that I have seen them I can’t live with out them.  The last few years I haven’t bought anything new but someone may just come up with the one lure that will work every time.

Yeah right !!

There are a couple of vendors that I do make a point of visiting.  The first one is the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association booth.  As part of their fund raising they sell Spike Spoons.  As I have stated earlier Spike is the only person around that makes and paints spoons suitable for handlining.  These spoons are becoming more and more difficult to find, especially in the style and color I want.  Because of that I make it a point to check out their booth, talk to some of the members and of course, buy some more spoons.  The second vendor I check out is D&B Fishing Products.  They are a local supplier of mostly spoons, blades, blades, more spoons and the occasional custom painted Rapala.  They also carry a few Spikes Spoons and usually in some hard to find patterns.  They also carry a lot of other products for the open water fishermen but for the river handliner all I am interested in is the spoons.

There are a lot of other things to see at this show besides the couple of vendors I talked about.  Fishing tackle, seminars, trips, boats and just about every new little gizmo known to man.  I check it all out when I’m not at the DWF booth talking fishing.  Some years I spend more time there then I do wandering around.  Depends on the crowds and how many volunteers we have.  I think one year it was just my friend and DWF booth Organizer Jerry and myself.  Usually we have more than enough help which gives me more time to wander aimlessly down the aisles.  It helps to fend off the winter blah’s and make plans for the coming season.  It’s not the same as being on the river but it sure helps.

Quiet Water Symposium

4 03 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men…..ever hear that phrase before? It comes to mind every time I have something planned and it doesn’t happen. This time it was for The Quiet Water Symposium I was supposed to attend. Unfortunately work, kids and other responsibilities come up and plans fall apart. I would have liked to have gone but at the same time I am not going to lose any sleep over it. A year ago I didn’t even know this show existed. As I sit here and type I’m still trying to remember how I ever found out about it. This show doesn’t have all the pomp and circumstance of some of the bigger shows but that really wouldn’t work for this one.

The Quiet Water Symposium is a show about quiet, clear flowing streams and experiencing all that nature has to offer from a canoe or kayak. A couple of years ago I would have never cared but since I picked up a couple of recreational kayaks I have a new found appreciation for quiet times on isolated rivers. As much as I like running the Detroit River in my aluminum boat and 20 hp outboard I do enjoy being by myself and floating down the AuSable or Manistee river systems.  It’s hard to describe but the feeling i get catching fish with no one else around is very rewarding.  It might not be like “The Old Man and the Sea” but to me it’s like heaven on earth.

Like the other shows I attend I am there to gather information. When I attended last year my goal was to get as many maps and flyers as I could find about my local streams. I didn’t know it at the time but there is a Huron River Watershed Council that works to promote recreational activities on the Huron. That was my first map along with a list of all their paddle dates. All throughout the summer they sponsor paddling weekends on different sections of the Huron. They coordinate drop-ins and shuttle services during the day along with instructions for the first timers. I never did attend any of the event but the information and maps will come in handy someday.

I talked to a lot of people that day about everything from catching grayling and brook trout to the damage being done by feral hogs. When all was said and done I left with a bag full of flyers and maps for the Huron, Flint and Shiawassee rivers with all the kayak put-ins and take outs. I didn’t get the opportunity to use any of them last summer but hopefully I will this year.

Next week, The Midwest Fly Fishing Expo…….providing the mice and men don’t interfere.


26 02 2012

Outdoorama, at one time the biggest outdoor show of the year.  Back when this show was at the Michigan State Fairgrounds it was the premier hunting and fishing show in Michigan.  The last time I attended the show at the State Fairgrounds was probably one of the best ones I had ever been too.  I got to see “Da Yoopers” perform and I got the opportunity to get up and close to a Gray Wolf.  You have no idea how big a wolf is until he stands up on his hind legs and puts his front paws on your shoulders.

Now the show has the same name but is run by Show Span, the same group that runs The Ultimate Fishing Show.  The DWF has a booth at Outdoorama as well so I was once again helping out Friday night.  Things were kind of slow this year so I had more of an opportunity to check out some of the attractions.  One even I watched this year was Ultimate Air Dogs hosted by former Detroit Tiger pitcher Milt Wilcox.  This event is a competition for dogs to see how far they can jump into a pool.  All the dogs would run down a dock and then jump into the pool after their personal toy.  Some dogs could jump over 20 feet, others…..not so much.  One dog went charging down the dock only to put on the brakes as he hit the edge of the pool.  He had a little too much momentum and ended up sliding off the end and into the water.  I wash they would have had this when my lab Sherman was still around.  He would have loved the opportunity to show off.

Super Sherman

After that I went back to wandering around the showplace checking out all the vendors, outfitters, boats, products and anything else fishing and hunting related.  Of course I had to buy some more lures; I had to get my weekly fix in.  It’s just so hard for me to pass up an opportunity to buy custom painted Rapala’s for less money than a brand new factory one.

Weekly Fix

That was about it for this year.  I wanted to try and get back up there but other responsibilities kept me home.  It still helped to relieve a little cabin fever until Spring gets here.

Next Week…The Quiet Water Symposium

Fishing Show/DIY Day

12 02 2012

Yep, looks like a good day to stay inside.

15 degrees outside, wind chill around zero and 4 inches of new fallen snow on the ground.  Looks like a good day for some do-it-yourself fishing projects.  First things first though, need to go to the MI – OH Sport fishing Expo in Monroe Michigan.  This is the first of 5 shows in a row for me.  Next week is my friends Sporting Collectables (Gun/Fishing) show.  After that it is Outdoorama, then it’s The Michigan Quiet Water Symposium and then the Mid-West Fly Fishing Expo.  It’s going to be a busy month for me.  No time to think about that, I had to meet my friends for breakfast first and then off to Monroe.

This show is put on by the Huron Valley Sport Fishing Club.  This is a show that is geared towards fishing the Western Basin of Lake Erie.  That means 3 things, Walleye, Steelhead and Smallmouth Bass with a heavy emphasis on Walleye.  There are lots of vendors selling crawler harnesses, blades, spoons and crank baits.  If you fish Lake Erie a lot this is the kind of show you need to visit.  You could probably purchase everything thing you would need for the upcoming season at this one show.  The only thing I bought was a hook sharpener (made in Ohio).  I don’t have a boat to fish Erie so whenever I go it is because I was invited by someone who has a big enough boat.  Since I am a guest on that boat I am going to use his stuff and do everything he tells me too (something to remember people, a boat only needs one captain).  I do have a few blades , spoons and harnesses just in case but for the most part I am using someone else’s equipment.  It’s still a good way to spend the morning, talking fishing with people I know and making new friends while I am there.

After the show was done my friend Jerry and I set up shop in his heated garage to get started on weights and shanks for the upcoming walleye season.  Normally I wait until March and warmer weather to do this in my garage.  This winter has been very mild and if it continues we could be fishing in March.  I’ve already been out once this month so no sense waiting until the last minute.   I had already poured a few weights a couple of weeks ago but Jerry needed a few as well.  You can purchase weights for handlining but a few of us prefer to use a homemade weight of copper tubing filled with lead.  It bounces off the rocks and doesn’t get hung up as much as the soft lead weights.  Today we were making 1 ¼ pound weights from an 11 inch piece of ½ inch copper pipe.  Both Jerry and I have a lot of scrap lead lying around so we melted it down in my electric lead ladle and carefully poured it in the tube.  We stand the copper tube into a piece of 2×4 with a ½ in hole drilled to hold the tube.  It has to fit tight or the hot lead will leak out from the bottom.  The tube also has to be pre heated some to insure there are no air pockets during the pouring process.  It is really quite easy to do but you need the right tools and a steady hand.

After a short Canada Dry break it was on to the next phase, shank production.  I need about a dozen to make it through an entire a year.  I replace them every 2 or 3 weeks just because of the abuse they take.  If a shank is kept in good working order you won’t lose as many lures.  Again you can buy these but I have so much #60 stainless steel wire lying around it is easier for me to make my own.  I can also customize special ones for friends and family who don’t like to run 3 leaders like I do.   The main thing is to remain consistent.  An inch or two difference on where a clevice is no big deal but if the 1st one is off it compounds all the way to the last one.  Just remember this rule of thumb 1 inch equals 1 foot (measured from the top of the weight) .  This isn’t an exact science but it is a start.  Once you get a shank set up and working for you keep making or buying the same ones.  I was the only one making shanks today, Jerry spent his time organizing and sorting through stuff.  Like me he has so much stuff he forgets what he has and where he has it.  It’s all time well spent.

Weights and Shanks, ready to go.