Despite absences, Outdoor Show should be memorableOutdoor Show should be memorablememorable

Updated 11/17/2010 3:46 PM

I'm already psyched for the "big event" coming January in Rosemont.

The event, of course, is America's Outdoor Show, opening its doors Jan. 26 at the Stephens Convention Center.

Why get so worked up about a giant fishing and outdoors show? The answer is easy.

Show owner Jim Sugarman has rapidly regained the trust and confidence of those of us who showed up at the old "O'Hare Show" (as it was called for decades). And this year's line-up of exhibitors reportedly numbers 600, triple what we saw in the 2010 show.

There are a couple of flies in the ointment, so to speak.

I know so many of you go to your favorite tackle stores, be it a big box operation or the smaller independent dealers, and lay down some big bucks for new rods and reels. The two companies that reportedly sell the most reels in the Chicago area are Pure Fishing and Shimano.

These two giants have ruled for decades, and both make excellent equipment that has withstood the test of time and hard use. But when it comes time to honor the people who made them so great, both entities have chosen not to show their wares at the 2011expo because it's not in the cards or perhaps budgets, to better describe the situation.

Show attendees come to the event for the seminars, to let the kids run wild, book fishing trips and vacations, and buy fishing tackle and accessories. The two companies I mentioned spend big dollars promoting their products in the professional angling venues. The pros, like many others, endorse the two companies because they are paid hefty fees.

And yet Pure Fishing and Shimano ignore the people in metro Chicago who have supported them.

The good news is there's still plenty lined up to make a visit well worth your time.

Did you see "Green Acres Mike" last year? He's the guy who field dressed a deer and then cooked venison for the crowd.

Have you ever seen bass pro and champ Kevin Van Dam in the flesh, the great angling sensation from Michigan?

How about Al and James Lindner, along with Babe Winkelman and Spence Petros? They'll be there, live and in living color, as will Ted Takasaki, Gary Roach, Shabbona Lake experts Denny and Aaron Sands, and a platoon of other famous anglers and educators.

Sugarman told me his mission is to bring the sizzle back to Rosemont with America's Outdoor Show. One of the moves he made was to eliminate the "flea market" booths and hucksters who had been regular fixtures in past years.

Back to the issue of those large fishing companies. I have personally been a longtime user of both Abu-Garcia and Shimano reels for the simple reason these are quality pieces of gear. Both companies even sponsored my radio show over the years, and I was always proud to say I was affiliated with them. Obviously times have changed for me and those two reel giants.

I expect when those companies see this column, National Fishing Hall of Fame inductee or not, I will probably be persona non-grata with the Christmas card mailing.

I overheard someone associated with one of the companies tell another industry gadfly that the companies never realize any major benefits after setting up their booths at consumer shows. I couldn't believe my ears.

It's my contention that if you are a fishing tackle company with great products that the public has accepted, it is then incumbent for that company to say thank you to the consumer by greeting the buying public in person.

In any case, mark your date book for Jan. 26-30, because this will be a fishing and outdoor show well worth attending.

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