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updated: 1/15/2014 6:17 PM

Take a break, and head for the Show

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It's the same story every year in the deepest, darkest January as we spend our waking hours dreaming of those smallmouth bass -- the ones that attacked our surface lures, spinners, and jumbo minnows in warmer days.

Or maybe it was that big largemouth that exploded up and through the heavy grass on Deep Lake, and then escaped back into the morass of submerged salad.

Such daydreams are what help keep us going while we write checks for those heavy-duty monthly heating, gas, and electric bills.

But there's opportunity on the way to breathe deeply once again, as Jan. 22-26 is showtime again in Rosemont.

Expect a heaping dose of the pros, including some new faces along with angling legends as the Chicago Outdoors Sports Show makes its annual appearance.

One of the fresher faces on hand will be walleye expert Tommy Skarlis. I use the term "expert" loosely. Skarlis is unique in that he says every tournament he enters is a learning experience. He then takes that knowledge and brings it to Rosemont -- and gives it to you.

Of course, along with all those smarts comes a bunch of ballpoint pens he quickly wears out from endorsing paychecks when the tournaments are completed.

Show attendees will have the chance to cozy up to Skarlis, along with other men and women who make their living in a boat or in the woods. Whatever your outdoors passion, there'll be someone on hand to talk about it from a position of authority.

Take, for instance, Capt. Don House, a real on-water magician. House is the owner of Branson Fishing Guide Service in Branson, Mo. He's a full-time professional fishing guide on Table Rock Lake, leading some 225 trips a year and spending more than 300 days on the water each year, with guiding and tournament experience stretching 20 years. House specializes in deep water fishing while using fine-tuned electronics.

A show like Rosemont wouldn't be complete without Bob Mehsikomer. This Minnesota muskie hunter is noted for his ability to educate fellow anglers, especially on the art of catching big muskies. His muskie schools in the U.S. and Canada focus on raising the skills and abilities of anglers seeking a more rewarding experience. Many of his co-instructors have gone on to build their own place in the fishing industry. And there is so much more from this one-of-a-kind angler driven by the challenge of the fish, the environment, the industry and the technology. There is much to learn from Bob if one is willing to listen. Will you be that one?

Hall of Fame angler Spence Petros will conduct seminars and join the show's muskie panel. His seminars are always fresh and educational. His instincts usually guide him to monster-sized muskies in Canada and Minnesota.

And what's just as unique is the hunting pavilion, which features names such as Billy Katz, Kip Campbell and Mark Millis. The show itself is connected to the Chicagoland Gun Show, which will be held in the same building (Stephens Convention Center).

On Jan. 22, the show's first night, join myself and radio show co-host A.J. Paul as we draw a winner for a Grandt custom rod, a day of guided fishing and some lures tossed in as well.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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