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Show a real catch for fishing fans

Sun., March 2, 2008

Outdoors lovers seem to be just itching to get outside and fish. But this weekend they headed indoors.

The first Great Western Sportfishing Show is drawing crowds to the convention center in Spokane this weekend for a look at anything and everything to do with fishing.

The show, which ends today, has a continuous schedule of seminars on fly-fishing, warm water species and the trifecta of salmon, trout and steelhead. Door prizes are as plentiful as Alaska king salmon in June.

There are plenty of activities for kids, but 4-year-old Maggie Lynch was content to scamper in one of the shiny new boats on display. “This is sweet, Dad,” she said to her father, Kerry Lynch. “I want to buy it.”

Her father looked at the $42,995 price tag and could only dream. “We love to fish,” he said. “I’ve been fishing since I was at least her age.”

Lynch said he liked the new show. “I’m glad they’ve got something like it this year. I hope it gets bigger and better every year.”

Show producer Merle Shuyler said he’s pleased with his first show in Spokane. His company, Shuyler Productions, usually puts on shows in Yakima and Pasco.

“I just thought it would be a good market for fishing,” Shuyler said. “This is my first fishing-only show.”

The show was on track to bring in 7,000 to 8,000 visitors. Shuyler said the seminars are popular and the vendors are doing well. “I anticipate coming back with a bigger and better show,” he said.

Jim Brazel, of Beamers Hells Canyon Tours, said business was booming. His company was one of many outfitters offering fishing trips and tours.

“We’ve done very well,” Brazel said. “It’s been pretty steady.”

He was offering a buy-one-get-one-free day trip, plus raffling off a television. Both attractions seemed pretty effective at getting people to stop and check out the outfitter’s brochures.

The show also boasts a shallow pool for practicing fly-fishing – minus a hook that might snag bystanders. Children who participate in the casting clinics get free rod-and-reel combos.

One busy booth was the fishing simulator, which mimics hooking and reeling in a fish and displays the action on a large screen from the vantage of both angler and fish. Brent Kingsley, 7, decided to give it a try. After a long fight with the virtual fish, his arms were ready for a rest. “It kinda hurt,” he said.

But Kingsley found the simulator close to the real thing. He ought to know. He once landed a 12-inch bass near Sandpoint.


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