Notes From the Dockside: The Sportsman ShowI know that a lot of people would just as soon skip the month of March. People are tired of winter by then and spring hasn’t come around quickly enough for them. But I like March and for me it is the beginning of spring. One of the surest signs of spring is the Minneapolis Sportsman Show.
By: By Mike Yurk, Hudson Star-Observer
I know that a lot of people would just as soon skip the month of March. People are tired of winter by then and spring hasn’t come around quickly enough for them. But I like March and for me it is the beginning of spring. Of course, March 20 is the first official day of spring. However, I do not look at a calendar to tell me that it is spring. Spring has many different debuts that are found in March.
Spring training for the baseball season is in full swing during March. That is always a good sign and we know that the opening of the new baseball season is just around the corner. There will be some snowstorms still in March but the weather will start to get warmer and the snow will melt. In March I will see the grass again. Although the grass will be brown I know that soon enough it will start to turn green again. Also in March I will get the boat out on the Mississippi River to fish for walleyes and sauger. Once I am in a boat on open water and catching fish again I consider it spring.
Also as far as I am concerned, one of the surest signs of spring is the Minneapolis Sportsman Show that occurs sometime in March. I have been going to it for the last seventeen years and haven’t missed one since moving back to the Midwest.
The show has changed over the years. It used to be 10 days long. Now it is only five days. I have a seen a number of vendors come and go. Some of them were like seeing old friends and I felt bad when they no longer were there. The specific dates of the show have changed from time to time but the show has always been scheduled for some time between the middle to the end of March. The weather which is never predictable in March has given us everything from warm, sunny days to snowstorms for the show.
Last year, The Bass Queen, and I went on the first day of the show. There generally are a lot fewer people there at midweek. We walked from our parking spot to Minneapolis Convention Center in shirts rather than in winter jackets like in some other years.
As soon as we walked in we could feel the excitement. There are people walking around holding fishing rods that they just purchased. That is always a nice sign.
Over the years The Bass Queen and I have developed a routine. Our boat doctor always has a display so we always stop by. It is like going to see old friends. Then I take the Bass Queen over to the Alumacraft display and show her the boat that I am lusting after. She likes the boat so I am getting a step closer to eventually buying it in a few years.
Then we start walking the rows of outfitters, resorts, charter boats, fishing baits and other assorted gear. We stop from time to time to grab a brochure and within a little while we have a handful of them. One of the booths offers us a plastic bag that we gratefully accept.
We browse through several of the sports shop displays. This year The Bass Queen is on the hunt for some fishing pliers. We go through a lot of them over the season. I stop and see our friends at the Weedless Bait Company. They make a very unique Weedless spoon. I first found them at the Sportsman Show many years ago and bought a couple of spoons. I put them in my tackle box and a little later I was in Canada. One evening as the setting sun painted bright colors on the sky that reflected on the quiet water I caught the biggest northern pike of the trip. That night made me a believer and now I have many different colors of those spoons in my tackle box.
There are a number of booths that are no longer at the Sportsman Show. There was a guy who demonstrated his large muskie plugs in a small tank. I bought several over the years. I never caught a muskie with them but one year I eventually will and remember him fondly as one of my buddies I always looked forward to seeing at the show. Missing also was the charter boat from Algoma where I caught trout and salmon. The folks from the Leech Lake fillet knife were not there either. It took me a number of years to feel comfortable dropping ninety dollars on their fillet knife that I got at the show one year but it has been the best fillet knives I have ever used.
As well, I usually run into a few people at the show that I knew from other places. I see a buddy, Tom, who is a guide on the St Croix and Mississippi River. One year I ran into two of the guys that I had replaced at a cabin in Canada a couple of years earlier. It is indeed a small world.
The Bass Queen and I finish. We have several bags of stuff that we collected and bought. Some of the brochures will foster future adventures. I have been talking about taking a houseboat into Rainy Lake so I have collected a number of brochures for that. The Bass Queen never did find the fishing pliers she wanted but it doesn’t matter since we got lots of other stuff.
The Sportsman Show has been another rite of spring and we are now one step closer to the fishing season.
Editors Note: The Notes From The Dockside is an exclusive feature appearing in the Hudson Star-Observer on the first and third issues of each month.