The folks at O’Laughlin Trade Shows are not slow. They didn’t make it to the 31st running of their Washington Sportsmen’s Show by milling around in the dark. They heard about the rapidly growing popularity of kokanee fishing in the Northwest and jumped right in, head over Rooster Tail.
The result — a new attraction called The Kokanee Tank — is likely to prove one of the most popular additions to their sportfishing seminar lineup.
The tank makes its debut Jan. 24-28 at the Washington State Fair Events Center.
Presented by experts from Mack’s Lures, a leader in kokanee gear, seminars at the Kokanee Tank will cover successful trolling techniques; how to find and catch kokanee in cold weather; jigging tactics, and more.
The tank itself displays dozens of catchable-size kokanee in a specially built, thermostatically-controlled environment. This is the first time kokanee have ever been raised to this size in a hatchery environment and then transported for display, according to show manager Bill O’Loughlin.
Kokanee — landlocked sockeye salmon — have come on strong the past decade or so as one of the high-target fish species for anglers across the Northwest. They’re plentiful, can be easy to catch and are delicious eating, according to show spokesman Joe Brennan.
Kokanee thrive in the Northwest and Northern California, Brennan said. They average 10 to 14 inches, but in certain lakes grow even larger. Oregon’s Wallowa Lake produced the world record kokanee, a 9.67-pounder.
Washington has more than 60 lakes that support kokanee, and they’re easily found on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
The “Indoor River” is back this year, stocked with trophy trout and serving as a perfect venue for a lineup of Northwest fishing experts to demonstrate river and stream trout tactics. Presenters include Buzz Ramsey, Scott Haugen, Cody Herman, Ashley Nicole Lewis, Doug Saint-Denise, Bob Kratzer, Shane Magnuson and a rep from Red’s Fly Shop.
The camp cooking area is always a big hit, with hours and hours of useful information shared daily by cast iron chefs Haugen, Roger Neufeldt, Bethy Rossos, Glenn Thornton, Milt Gudgell and Steve Fleming. A few of the subjects on tap this year include making your own sausage, Dutch oven dishes, brisket, ribs and pulled pork, and salmon and tuna filleting and care.
Gudgell is a seasoned charter captain who will demonstrate how professionals make short work of big fish, fast and effectively, and how to improve the flavor and shelf life of your fish. Haugen is back for another season, sharing his expertise in butchering big game.
O’Loughlin says not a year goes by that an adult angler doesn’t stop by the show office and say, “I caught my first fish at this show.” The kids’ trout pond will have 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout, up to 8 pounds each, available free for kids 12 and younger to catch.
Show hours are noon to 8 p.m. Jan. 24-26; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 27. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28. The venue is the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup (110 Ninth Ave. SW). Tickets are $15 for adults,$5 for juniors 6-16, free for kids 5 and under.
Half day tickets (4 p.m. to close) are $8, Wednesday through Saturday, a two-day pass is $24, and a two-for-one military discount with valid military ID also is available.
Onsite parking is free.
Here’s a selection of seminar subjects and presenters. For a full seminar schedule, with dates and times, go to the show’s home page, www.thesportshows.com/shows/washington.
— At the Fly Casting Pond: beginning and advanced casting; sink tips and full sinking lines and more, by Don Simonson, Arnie Gidlow, Jim Teeny and others.
— At the Fly Tying Theater: best dry flies; new patterns for stillwater; Teeny’s proven patterns; simple pink salmon flies; best saltwater patterns, beginner’s creek flies and more, by Red’s Fly Shop, Kelly Laatsch, Jim Teeny and others.
— At the Fly Fishing Theater: panfish, Yakima River, kayak fishing the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia’s Kootenay, saltwater beaches, Tongass steelhead, best smallmouth, trophy bass on flies, Euro nymphing and more, by Denny Rickards, David Paul Williams, Mark Hieronoymus and others.
— At the Blue Theater: albacore, spring chinook trolling, bobber dogging, walleye, deep water ling and rockfish, pike minnows for dollars, razor clams, bass opportunities in Washington and more, by Dan Ayres, Danny Garrett, Terry Rudnick, Ed Iman and others.
— At the Green Theater: bird dog Q&A, elk calling, trophy blacktail, do it yourself elk and deer hunts in Idaho, basic turkey hunting, hunting access in Washington, Western Washington pheasant and more, by Russ McDonald, Haugen and others.
— At the Indoor River, summer steelhead, Rooster Tail spinners, twitching jigs and more.