In many ways, attending the Washington Sportsmen’s Show is like going to a favorite fishing spot or hunting lodge. You get to see some longtime friends, swap stories (some of them true), pick up some tips to catch more fish or a new locale to visit, and maybe come home with some new fishing lures or a knife that will make dressing your next deer easier.
The 26th annual gathering of the camouflage crowd opens Wednesday and will feature dozens of experts; hundreds of guides, outfitters and resorts; and scores of manufacturers selling the latest in gear and technology.
Here are five ways to make the most of this year’s show.
1. Try it yourself. There are a number of opportunities to get some hands-on experience at the show.
New this year will be the target shooting area and education center presented by the Washington State Archery Association. Show attendees of all ages can try their hand at shooting a bow and arrow, under the guidance of the association’s volunteers.
Fishermen can learn about advances in sonar technology and how to use them to catch more fish, by trying the new Lowrance HDS Touchscreen at the Lowrance Learning Center.
For the kids, the free trout pond provides youths 12 and younger with the chance to catch-and-keep or release a trout. Sponsored by Baxter Auto Parts, the pond is stocked with thousands of rainbow trout. All the gear is provided, including poles, bait and take-home bags if your young angler opts to keep the catch.
2. Learn from the experts. You can get plenty of free advice from top hunters and anglers in more than 150 “how to” presentations on hunting, fishing and other outdoor topics.
Fishing programs include Jack Mitchell talking fly fishing the Yakima River, Bob Krazter sharing tips for fishing small rivers for chinook salmon, Anton Jones talking about fishing for triploid rainbow trout at Lake Rufus Woods, and Buzz Ramsey discussing fishing for spring chinook. Johnnie Candle debuts at the show, offering tips for walleye fishing.
Hunters will have the chance to hear from Scott Haugen on turkey hunting and field-dressing big game, dog trainer Pat Murphy will talk about using dogs to hunt upland game and waterfowl, Glenn Berry and Dan Kloer will talk about different aspects of elk hunting, and Ed Shelby will share tips on hunting black-tailed deer.
Among the other speakers, survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt will talk about outdoor hazards, while Tiffany Haugen, Herb Good and Cee Dub will offers ideas for camping cooking.
3. Plan a trip. The show is a great place to dream about or plan the trip of a lifetime. You will have the opportunity to meet face to face with professional guides and outfitters from the Western United States, Canada, South America and New Zealand. Representatives from hunting and fishing lodges, lakeside resorts and tourism agencies also be there to assist in planning outdoor adventures.
There will be a half-dozen new guides and outfitters on hand. The list includes Battle Pass Outfitting from Saratoga, Wyo. (elk, deer and antelope hunts), SYC Sporting Outfitters from Argentina (bird hunting and fishing), and Buck and Bulls Guides and Outfitters from Lindon, Utah (elk, moose, mule deer and antelope hunts).
4. Check out the animals. There will be a number of ways to see animals at the show, some performing live and others to be admired as mounts.
The Puget Sound DockDogs show returns with competition each day of the show. There will be events judging dogs on how far they can leap, how high they can go and how fast they can retrieve. For details and registration information, go to pugetsounddockdogs.org.
A number of sporting dog groups will have booths, including the Washington Brittany Club, Seattle-Tacoma German Wirehair Pointer Club, Rainier Retriever Club and Puget Sound Spring Club. A number of owners bring along their dogs, and they’re happy to talk about the pros and cons of their favorite breeds.
Always popular exhibits at the show are the “Northwest Tour of Big Game Animals” and the “Head & Horns” competition. Hunters are invited to bring heads, horns or horn/antler sheds to be measured and scored by Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young representatives for possible inclusion in upcoming Northwest record books.
5. Do some shopping. There will be the big boys of the area — including Sportco Warehouse, Cabela’s and Auburn Sports and Marine — but there will be plenty of other booths offering discounts on the latest must-have gear. Among the scores of vendors will be companies selling their takes on camp stoves (AfterBurner Stove Corp.), fishing boats (Clackacraft River Boats), fishing lures (Dick Nite Spoons Inc.) and knives (Roe Morris Knifemaking).
Washington Sportsmen’s Show
WHEN: Wednesday-Jan. 27.
WHERE: Puyallup Fair & Events Center, 110 Ninth Ave. SW, Puyallup.
HOURS: Noon-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Jan. 27.
TICKETS: Adults $12; youths ages 6-16 $5, children 5 and younger free. Two-day pass $18. Discount coupons, good for $2 off adult admission Wednesday-Friday only, are available online and at participating Baxter Auto Parts and Les Schwab locations.
INFORMATION: thesportshows.com.Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640