Tag Archives: fishing

How to Get the Most Out of a Sportsmen’s Show

26 Feb

This month I had the singular experience of spending 55 hours out of a week in the Portland Expo Center in Oregon. No, I’m okay. Thanks for asking, though.

This was part of an annual trek to Portland for the PNW Sportsmen’s Show. During the five days of this show, the Expo Center houses hundreds upon hundreds of booths advertising guided trips, equipment, books, and about ninety different varieties of beef jerky. To translate into terms this blog has become accustomed to, people go to Sportsmen’s Shows for the same reasons people go to comic conventions:

  • To connect with like-minded people
  • To learn about new developments in the industry
  • To spend $11.99 on a single soft pretzel because the lack of vitamin D is having its way with your good sensibilities

My personal reason for attending was that my dad was running a booth and we agreed five days in this manner was a bit much for one person. Now hear this, I knew what I was getting into. I’ve been to dozens of Sportsmen’s Shows and I spent the full 5 days in the booth last year as well.

The show is massive, friendly, and it offers a diverse amount of booths to cater to every outdoor interest. Hunting, fishing, hiking, you name it. It’s also a lot, and that’s the best way I can put it as someone who can not handle a lot. It’s a lot of sweaty people in one place looking for an excuse to tell you about that kokanee fishing trip they went on last summer.

Thousands of people attend the Sportsmen’s Show in Portland every year, but, sadly, it doesn’t mean that they all have the best experience that they can have. You know what I call that? I mean, familiar, but also – a darn shame.

Let’s fix this.

How to get the Most Out of a Sportsmen’s Show

  1. Get the map at the doorImage result for reading a map gif

What’s that? You have a great sense of direction? That’s the devil talking. How do you think you’re gonna find That One Guide’s booth again once you wander away? Ask different guides in different booths? Haha, sure you will, you awful jerk. Don’t do that. Get the map. Read the map.

Image result for gravity falls snacks thompson gif

  1. Bring snacks

To be fair, this is against the rules. On the record: don’t bring snacks. Bring $36 so you can buy three soft pretzels instead. This has been my official and legal statement.

  1. Pet the dogsImage result for petting dog ghibli gif

People don’t bring their dogs to the show because their dogs ask to come along. They bring their dogs because they love their dogs and want other people to see how lovable said dogs are. Do your civic duty and tell the dogs they’re beautiful. Ask them how they became the best dogs in the world. Share your secrets with them. Just pet the dogs.

Image result for spending money bee and puppycat gif

  1. Buy something

Bring your allowance and treat yourself. You don’t have to buy something at my booth (you should but you don’t have to). Just buy something. There are a lot of deals you won’t be able to get anywhere else, and also – did you pay entry just to window shop? Why???

  1. Watch the jokesImage result for chat noir bad joke gif

Scenario: You walk past a tasteful camouflage display.

Options: A) walk by B) ask staff about their product C) Say “Whoa, didn’t see you there!” D) literally anything except for option C.

Correct Answer: every answer that wasn’t C. Look, you won’t be the first person to tell this kind of a joke. You won’t even be the second, the third, or the ninth. You will be politely smiled at and then promptly cussed out once you walk away. For the love of humanity, keep any and all camo jokes inside your head.

bingo-card

  1. Bingo

In anticipation of spending 10 hours out of each day inside a concrete box, I created a bingo card for use at the show. You can print mine or make your own. It’s a great tool for encourage you to notice and look for specific things.

 

sportsmans-show-bingo-cards

     7. Just have a good time

Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and to meet other people who are enjoying themselves. Keep your cool when it gets crowded, take a chill pill if your favorite vendor runs out of a certain product, and strike up conversations with the people around you. Share your positive thoughts and keep your judgmental ones to yourself.

Unless your positive thought is a camo joke.

In that case, shut your dirty mouth and get right out of my face

Fighting for My Rites

21 May

Every family has a thing.

You know, as in that family that drinks vegan shakes three meals a day, the family obsessed with dogs, cars, saving people, hunting things, or the family business.

My family, as you may know from previous posts, has been greatly influenced by the outdoorsman that is my father. This affects things that would otherwise be more normal. Our living room walls, for example, are a zoo, but the dead kind. Our vacations revolve around my dad being able to catch a fish at some point. And my sisters and I have to shoot a deer and catch a Steelhead before we are allowed to move out, or as Dad has since put it, before he will consider his three daughters adults.

I got my hunting license at twelve, and therefore dropped my first deer that year as well. Half-way done.

But the Steelhead? Not so much.

On my way to my first Steelhead trip when I was fifteen or sixteen, Dad warned me about their catch difficulty, saying, “the Steelhead is the fish of a thousand casts.” So eloquent. It was like the opening line of a poem. I lifted my head and silently accepted the challenge just before Dad continued, “So count.”

Oh, you’re serious.

I got up to eighty-five that day. No bites.

The next time I think I raised it to one hundred thirty. Maybe a couple hundred fifty next time? Who knows.

My counting only grew less enthusiastic and/or accurate. And of course, the Steelhead continued to swim around me like they could smell my naivete. She’s only at four hundred seventy-nine, I heard them gurgle to each other once. What a child. Hold back, Jim, let her sweat a little.

The best part was that at this point in my life, I wouldn’t have called myself the world’s most talented fisherman – not for lack of practice, mind you – so with every new person we had along on our endless stream of fishing trips, I had a new tutor who thought they were going to turn my sad, unskilled form into some sort of angling wizard who can call fish like a mystical freshwater siren.

If you have not been raised the way I have been, let me explain you a thing: I have been fishing (and just fine, thank you very much) since I was two years old. Two years old. So when any fishing guide who had never met me, looked at the way I held a rod, he would deduce that I didn’t even know what a fish was, and it got more than a little frustrating. No amount of authoritative “Uh-huh”s, “Yep”s, or “Mhm, Got it, thanks!”s will get you anywhere in this position.

It was a thought process that infected most guides I’d fished with by this time; it happened again a little while back, on the day I finally ensnared the elusive Steelhead.

We started the day off in a boat with two hours of rain, followed by two more hours of radio silence, briefly interrupted so my dad could reel in a Steelhead. (Factor these in if you’re doing the math on my mood)

When my fish hit, it took several minutes to reel the angry thing in, amidst the constant coaching of our guide, who seemed to be under the impression that at any moment I might give up and toss my rod to the retreating fish. But when it was near enough, he grabbed the net, dipped it in the Nestucca River, and pulled out the Steelhead I’d been waiting for.

My dad was nearly as excited as I was. I had done it. I was on my way to adulthood.

As Dad went for his camera, the guide posed next to me, cradling my catch. I motioned for the guide to give the slimy symbol of maturity to me. This fish, right here, this is my crowning achievement! The fish of a freaking thousand casts. My fish. Let me hold my dang fish.

He gave me a skeptical look and conceded a small part of its belly for me to hold on to for the picture.

“Should I -” I began, still motioning. I want to hold my fish.

“It’s pretty strong.” He said with a touch of finality, holding tighter to the fish’s tail.

I am a very short girl and I detest confrontation, so I am not often intimidating. But the eyes are the windows to the soul, so, even non-verbally, I must have said something vile to that boy.

Therefore, I can only assume that fish was fighting his poor wrist something terrible (without actually moving) and the young man had far too much chivalry to allow me to suffer as he did. With my fish. My fish. Those two words echoed in my head. You know how you don’t care about something until it’s threatened? The rapport I formed with this fish in the eleven seconds the guide and I jointly held it for pictures grew as strong as that which I share with my dearest possessions.

So when he said, “Okay,” hefted it from my empty hands, and turned to the side of the boat to let it swim free, I went full-scale three-year-old on him.

My fists balled up. My jaw dropped. My eyebrows furrowed so hard I believe I grew a unibrow. It’s a bit of a blur now, but I think I may have stamped my foot.

The guide’s back was turned and, unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to say a word.

But my performance only needed one audience member. My darling daddy, formerly occupied watching the fish just nearly escape, glanced up at my face and his eyes widened. In that moment, he didn’t need to see a fast-maturing seventeen-year-old. He needed to see his youngest daughter wearing an expression he recognized from years and years of the cruel world mistreating her.

“Hey, oh, can she let it go?”

“Oh, sure.”

So I, and I alone, let go of my lady fish’s tail to set her free.

Steelhead caught. Rite of passage finished.

And that’s how I threw a tantrum in an effort to convince my father that I was an adult.