Imagine a consumer show for golf enthusiasts. For the price of admission, golfers could purchase the latest equipment at special prices, receive discounts on green fees at area courses, and attend workshops conducted by professionals such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman.
An event like that would be a sell-out even in Madison Square Garden. Most golfers are starving for the equipment and know-how to improve their games.
During the next few months, there will be hundreds of consumer shows aimed at fishing enthusiasts across the country, and anglers looking to hone their skills would be well advised to attend.
Like golf, fishing is an activity that can be enjoyed by the skilled and unskilled alike.
Enjoying a day on the water no more requires catching a limit of fish than enjoying 18 holes of golf requires breaking par. Still, as an avid golfer and a passionate fisherman, I know that if I had my druthers, I'd rather catch a nice mess of fish than to go home empty.
Sport Shows: Something For Everyone
That's why I encourage anglers to attend sport shows. There's no better way to get the latest in how-to, where-to, and what-to, than to attend the nearest show and soak up everything that's available.
There are several ways to benefit from a sport show. First, check out the equipment booths. Whether it's rods and reels, boats, electronics, or lures, the hot new equipment will be on display, and often as not the individuals manning the booths are either manufacturer's representatives or pro staffers. Either way, these folks are knowledgeable about the gear on display. Ask lots of questions and visit all the booths, learning everything you can.
Don't just listen to "bells-and-whistles" sales pitches. Ask the reps how to use the equipment. If you're shopping for a sonar unit, try to think of problems you may have encountered on the water and get the rep's or pro's input on how to solve those problems. Have them demonstrate the best ways to use the equipment. Ask why their rod or reel is better than the next guy's.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. There are no dumb questions at a sport show. Ask enough questions and you may be surprised at what you'll learn.
A Great Time For Bargains
Check prices, too. These preseason shows are a great opportunity for bargains if you shop around. Dealers often get special sport show pricing from manufacturers, making shows a great place to purchase whatever equipment you'll need for the upcoming season.
Next, visit with the resorts in attendance. Ask about the fishing available in their lakes, the best time to visit, and the most productive techniques. Resorts are often represented by guides who are more willing to share information during the off-season than they will once the season is in full swing. Again, one little tip could make a difference a few months down the road.
Visit a sport show with the idea that you're going to learn more about the sport. Most shows offer seminars by local experts and professional tournament anglers. Attend the seminars with a notebook and pen. Take careful notes and ask questions. If possible, visit with the pro after the seminar. Most are more than willing to share their knowledge with guests.
Over the years I've conducted thousands of seminars for hundreds of thousands of anglers. Many just sit there hoping for a quick tip that will produce instant success. A few, however, hang on every word, take notes furiously, and track me down to ask questions at the end.
Often as not, those folks look me up a year or two later to report that something I said opened the door to fishing success. Maybe it was nothing more than a simple little tip that touched off a thought process or maybe it was a concept that unlocked the secret to their favorite lake.
Also available at sport shows will be books, magazines and videotapes on fishing. Shop around and find the pieces you want to add to your fishing library. Take them home and read them cover to cover, searching for information that might be helpful.
You'll be pleasantly surprised how much knowledge is available at sport shows. It's all there if you're just willing to dig it out. Many of the regional outdoor publications also may be represented. Check out the various tabloids and magazines and subscribe to the ones you like. Often as not, the writers and editors behind the booth are quite knowledgeable about area lakes and rivers.
If you know what to look for, a trip to a sport show can be one of the most productive experiences of the new fishing season.
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Editor's Note: Babe has shared his love of the outdoors with TV viewers for more than 25 years. Babe will share his tips and outdoor adventures weekly on sportsmansguide.com. In 1984, Babe's "Good Fishing" program debuted and later his "Outdoor Secrets" show became popular with hunting enthusiasts. Babe's programs appear on the Outdoor Life Network, WGN, Fox Sports Net, Fox College Sports, The Men's Channel, Sportsman's Channel, Great American Country, WILD TV, and Comcast. Babe also writes hunting, fishing and conservation columns that are carried by up to 350 newspapers each week. Winkelman sponsors include Chevrolet, Miller High Life, Johnsonville Brats, Crestliner Boats, St. Croix Rods, Browning, Hunter's Specialties, Nikon, Minn Kota, Optima Batteries, Mathews, Honda, and many more.