Busy week for Chicago outdoors shows
By Dale Bowman Post-Tribune correspondent January 17, 2013 11:12PM
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Updated: February 19, 2013 3:14PM
This is the oddest winter I remember for outdoors shows. And next week is the oddest stretch of all to figure.
The most traditional show of the past three decades, nicknamed the “O’Hare Show,’’ now the Chicago Outdoor Sports Show (chicagosportsmenshow.com), opens Wednesday at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.
The odd thing this year is a brand-new, big-name fishing show, the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo (sportshows.com/chicago/index.html) opens Thursday at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.
And the Hammond Outdoor Sports Show (sportsshow.gohammond.com) is next weekend. We will delve into that show next week.
Even on a cutthroat business level, I don’t understand two major shows going head-to-head.
The good thing for consumers is that competition has made show producers focus and sharply define their shows.
The Rosemont show made the innovative twist of co-locating with the Chicagoland Gun Show (chicagolandgunshow.com). I have no idea how well that will work, but it is an out-of-the-box show idea.
At Rosemont, the headliners include Spence Petros, Jonathon cq VanDam, Dan Gapen Sr., Greg Bohn and Tommy Skarlis.
The strength of the Rosemont show is that it is a more traditionally broad-based outdoors show with hunting and fishing options and seminars daily.
It has been decades since the fishing world has seen anything like the new show in Schaumburg. With the American Sportfishing Association behind it, this is the most significant presence of manufacturers in this area since the BASS Master Classic came to Chicago in 2000. That means everybody from Shimano to Eagle Claw to Plano will be represented.
And this show has the biggest superstars of fishing, including the biggest VanDam, Kevin. Not to mention Mike Iaconelli, Mark Zona, Gary Parsons and Joe Bucher, and on.
Ice fishing: By early next week, ice fishing will be locked in. As of Thursday morning, the one spot being ice fished was a bay on Loomis Lake, said Capt. Rich Sleziak from Slez’s Bait Shop in Lake Station.
“Come Wednesday, there will be plenty of ice everywhere with three below-zero days,’’ he said.
He’s right about that. One of the greatest destinations in the area will be Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, noted for its outstanding ice fishing for panfish. As of Thursday, staff reported 0-3 inches of ice. As of Monday, it was wide open. As of Thursday morning, nobody was out and there were patches of open water. By next week, that will have changed and Willow Slough will be packed with antsy ice fishermen and shacks.
Fishing: Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said the cold water in the streams has slowed fishing there. ... He said a few brown trout were taken from shore near Portage, and an occasional lake trout. ... Sleziak said there was still some steelhead and crappie being caught in Salt Creek. ... There’s perch being caught at 95th in the river on Chicago’s Southeast Side, but they take sorting for keepers.
Hunting notes: The third season in Indiana’s north zone for Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant is Saturday through Wednesday. Staff at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area said there is several hundred geese standing on the ice. There will be a self sign-in with maps there. At Willow Slough FWA, staff said they are holding a 250-300 geese. There is no draw, just a self sign-in by the office and map of off-limits areas.