Well, I'm finally getting around to my review and observations about the recent Northeast Hunting & Fishing Expo and apologize for being late.
The show itself just seems to get smaller and smaller, which seems to be typical of many shows I attend. This could be due to the economy as well as companies taking advantage of open houses or special weekends at their shops instead of loading up and dragging it to the show. This show was represented well from many of our local companies, charter boats, captains and guides but was very light on out of state charters, guides and outfitters. Some of that could be due to the Sportsman show just weeks before in Springfield MA, but still a disappointment. The show leans more towards those that fish then those that hunt but fortunately I do both. I didn't find any great deals on any gear and I didn't see anything that caused me to say "I have to have that". So in simple terms the show was just ok. I was able to work my way through the 6 rows of booths in just about an hour and a half. One nice thing was no SHAMWOW guy!! There was a small section that included fly tiers who were tying flies and you could ask questions and even purchase their flies. A trout pond for those to try their luck at catching a fish and a casting area where some of the pros presented casting instruction and demonstration. definitely a little something for everyone, but the keyword here is little.
One thing i did see that I hadn't seen before was a new game drag called the Game Sled from Hunting's a Drag Inc. Currently my hunting partners and I use a game drag called the Dead Sled from Arc products. The Dead Sled is basically a big piece of thick plastic with some holes for strapping down the game. Kind of like the little blue roll-up sleds you had as a kid. They hold up well for the most part, but it takes a beating on some of the areas we hunt and some don't make it past a single use as the rocks chew holes through them or we rip the strap due to the sled getting brittle in the cold or hung up on a deadfall or something. Another downside is the Dead Sleds we use now are their width. Because it is a big piece of long plastic rolled up, the width is about 2+ feet and becomes difficult to carry around with you. The bag and strap that comes with it won't last long either. The Game Sled however looks to solve some of the problems with our current Dead Sleds. First is the material itself. I'm not actually sure what the material is but it is a pliable material that looks and feels extremely durable with the straps and buckles securely sewn to the sled. Because it is a pliable material it allows you to fold up small and then roll making it fit in my backpack. It does seem to be a little bit heavier than my current one, but the size and pack-ability out weighs the extra weight in my opinion. The Safety orange color of the sled is also a plus in my opinion. I have one on order and hopefully i will be successful this fall and can report back on the Game Sleds performance.
After we completed our trip through the exhibitor area we decided to take in some seminars from the local Captains and Guides that were at the show. This by far was the highlight of the show for us. We got so much out of these seminars which were also included in the $10 entry fee. We attended 4 seminars related to salt water fishing, but they also had seminars on fly fishing the upper Delaware and a few for the hunters as well. The first seminar was on fishing blackfish and black sea bass presented by Captain Kyle Douton from J&B Tackle in Niantic, CT. Captain Douton is the captain of the J&B Charter Boat and provided a very informative session for sure. The second session was Light Tackle Trolling Tubes & Spoons with T-Man Trolling Systems presented by Captain Pat Renna from TMan Custom Tackle. Captain Rena also runs a Charter boat where he takes clients out to experience this light tackle and tubing technique for striped bass and bluefish. Captain Renna is very active on one of the fishing forums (CTFisherman) that I participate on and I've seen the reports from many of Capt Renna's trips and he surely knows his stuff and is always available to help answer your questions. Our next session was by far the most entertaining as Captain Greg Dubrul who is the owner and captain of the Blackhawk II Party Boat out of Niantic, CT kept everyone laughing and interested as he discussed techniques for night time striper fishing. It's been many years since I fished on the Blackhawk II but now that Capt. Dubrul is in charge I'll have to add the Blackhawk to my list of visits this season. We finished the sessions with Capt Blaine Anderson from Anderson Guide Service who spent the last hour discussing catching trophy stripers on live bait. If you are interested in live bait fishing for big stripers, then you must take in one of Capt. Anderson's clinics. Capt. Anderson also manages Connecticut Outfitters located in Wethersfield, CT and is a shop I frequent often and they also offer many fishing seminars at their store. They are very friendly and knowledgeable about all types of fishing and carry an incredible array of items for chasing trout to striped bass. Make sure to check them out. Capt. Anderson also is a regular on CTFisherman and someone willing to help with your questions. Make sure to contact the store for information on upcoming seminars.
Although I was a little disappointed with the small exhibitors section it did allow me the time to take in those great seminars and take away some new found knowledge that hopefully I can apply to my fishing this year. Time to get on the water. Tight Lines everyone.