At many places across the Midwest, big ice fishing conventions and shows at local retailers are beginning to pop up as temperatures continue to drop into November and thousands of fishermen and women prepare for the coming hardwater season.
These shows are a great way to see what's new for the season from the many of the larger outdoor companies that are involved in the sport and get the gear in-hand to check out. What's great about going to these shows is going around to the dozens of small businesses at them, that are coming up with new techniques or inventions to help make our time on the ice more efficient or more comfortable.
Recently, I attended the 10th annual Dakota Angler Ice Institute in Sioux Falls, SD as a representative for Clam Outdoors as I've done in years past and, as usual, I go there and leave just amazed at the number of companies that are getting involved in ice fishing as well as what they are creating to help make people better on the ice.
Thousands of people came to the Institute over its three days and left with all manner of gear, everything from flashers and flip-over sleds to custom rods and painted jigs, automatic tip-downs created from PVC piping and gears, and warm meals that cook with just a little bit of water added into the bag.
Shows like this are sights to behold when you come in and see just the sheer amount of gear that is available to us ice fishermen, and best of all for those attend these conventions, there's sales and deals galore, some of which you won't find at any other point in the season!
Where will the industry go from here is anyone's guess! When my daughter (who came by to visit with mom) is old enough to start going out on her own, I can't even imagine what will be available to her and with so many kids in attendance at this event, it's great to see that the future is in good hands as the next generation gets their own rods and reels and hits the ice to build that same passion many of us enjoy today.
With the conclusion of the Ice Institute, be sure to check out these upcoming shows if you're in the region: Hard Water Expo in Blaine, MN happening this weekend, Nov. 16-18; the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show on Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (biggest ice show in the country); new this year, the Fargo Ice Fishing Show on Dec. 7th-9th, and the Milwaukee Ice Fishing Show on Dec. 8th-10th.
At these shows, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of gear that is available to you. So, if you're in the region, make sure to take a trip to one or more of these shows. Your wallet may end up being a bit lighter by the end of the day, but between getting your hands on all of the new gear and the informative seminars presented during the shows, you will leave better outfitted and better prepared to have a great and productive time on the hardwater this season.