By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
If you’re snoozing, waiting for the annual Washington Sportsmen’s Show to wander up I-5 to our own backyard, you’re losing. The Monroe version of the big hook and bullet extravaganza no longer exists, making Puyallup your only choice this year.
So it’s a little farther, but hey — parking’s free at the Puyallup fairgrounds, it’s a relatively easy drive, and the show is still the same professional-grade, outdoor-aficionado-friendly event it’s always been.
The O’Loughlins have pretty much stuck with their successful formula of lo these many years, but have altered the usual landscape in several unobtrusive ways. One is to increase the number of free seminars offered during the show to a lineup of 245 separate, hour-long sessions covering a wide spectrum of outdoor interests.
Another is a new venue sponsored by Lowrance which offers participants a chance to learn-by-doing the latest in High Definition System sonar. Experts Jeff Boyer and Jack Fiddleton will introduce anglers to the top-of-the-line Lowrance HDS 10 and give them a step-by-step tutorial on how to use this most recent technology. They will also demonstrate the enhanced sensitivity of HD structural sonar, and its vastly superior side, down, and composite scans. Sign up for the 11/2-hour workshops at the Lowrance booth.
If you hanker to chase warm water species — bass, perch, crappie and the like — you’ll want to check out another new attraction, the Warm Water Demo Tank, with a full slate of speakers and topics geared toward those species.
The favorites, of course, are back: the indoor steelhead river, the kids’ free trout pond, the cook tent, the Head and Horns competition, and a lot more. Following is a short rundown on some of the major features of this winter’s show:
All you ever wanted to know about playing outside in the great Pacific Northwest, and then some, presented by such experts as Buzz Ramsey, Tom Nelson, Anton Jones, Denny Rickards, Kelly Laatsch, and Scott Haugen. Learn the where-to, how-to of the increasingly popular tiger muskie fishery in our state; all about steelhead fly fishing; opportunities in the north Columbia Basin, including Lake Chelan Macs, upper Columbia triploids, and summer steelhead; shad fishing for kids; moose calling/hunting; finding big halibut, and much more.
Local muskie chapter angler of the year in 2007 and 2009, Michael Floyd, will describe for instance why it takes creative thinking to catch the wild and weird tiger muskie, and why these non-native, sterile hybrids are so much fun to catch and so hard to release. He will offer tips on basic equipment and how to locate monsters such as the 48-inch, 30-pound state record.
Herb Good, “Cee Dub” Welch, and Tiffany Haugen collaborate to show how to whip up tasty one-pot, one-burner camp meals, and to hand out loads of new, easy-to-prepare recipes. Idaho native Cee Dub returns to share his Dutch oven expertise in main dishes, side dishes and desserts. Newcomer Tiffany Haugen, author of “Grill It! Plank It! Wrap It! Smoke It!”, “Cooking Big Game,” and “Cooking Salmon &Steelhead,” will share tips and recipes on how to care for and cook big game, as well as how to feed a crowd on a pound of salmon.
See the spectacular “Legendary Blacktail of the Pacific Northwest” display, featuring five world-record Columbia blacktail heads taken in Oregon and Washington – the best of these uniquely Northwest deer. The display accompanies the Head and Horns competition, which invites participants to bring their big game trophy to have it professionally measured and to compete for substantial prizes. Previous participants, including over 600 Washington competitors the past two years, are invited to try again.
Indoor steelhead river
Sit in comfortable bleachers alongside the 50-foot-long, 10,000-gallon “steelhead river” and watch experts demonstrate successful techniques to fish slots, pools, tailouts and other habitat types with flies, float-and-jig, drifted bait, plugs and more. The steelhead river is just about as close to real outdoor fishing as you can get indoors, and it gives showgoers a front row seat.
Free kids trout pond
Staffed by fishing club volunteers, the kids’ trout pond gives youngsters 12 and under the opportunity to catch and keep, or release, a trout. The pond is heavily stocked, and everything – rods, bait and take-home bags – is provided.
Warm water demo tank
Experts perched on the 30-foot-long warm water demo tank – fully stocked and glass-walled – will share the Northwest’s best warm water fishing opportunities and the latest techniques. It’s a chance to see, from a unique perspective, how fish reach to various lures and presentations. Speakers for the warm water seminars include Ed Iman, “jigging for walleye;” Perry Peterson, “techniques for tiger muskies;” Don Hogue, “being versatile with one bait;” Bob Adkinson, “Columbia River smallies;” Ron Hobbs, “basic worm fishing for bass,” and others. For a complete schedule, visit www.otshows.com.
Do your homework and come armed to deal for that perfect fishing boat. The show will spotlight sportfishing boats from the area’s top boat dealers, featuring 2009 and 2010 models priced to sell. Models on display will include an emphasis on those hulls designed for Puget Sound and local lakes and rivers.