People who don’t know my family well probably think I’m exaggerating when I tell them my dad and brothers are obsessed with fishing, because obsessed is a pretty dramatic word. “Interested” in fishing sounds like a sometimes pastime, and saying they “enjoy” fishing is way too tame an adjective. They live, breathe, and eat fishing (all seasons, all weather, all types of fish). If that isn’t an obsession, I don’t know what is.
It’s an annual tradition for them to fuel this passion at the Progressive Northwest Sportshow, held at the Minneapolis Convention Center this year from March 25-29.
The show is a giant indoor playground focusing on their favorite outdoor things: products and accessories for hunting, fishing, and boating, daily seminars (this year’s topics range from “Hot New Walleye Tactics” to “In the Mindset of a Muskie”) and entertainment. This year the world-traveling Lumberjills will show off their logrolling, axe-throwing, chainsaw-carving, and crosscut-sawing skills. I love their tagline: “Chics with Axes.”
Event organizers have made the show fun for kids, too. Kids can pick up an Adventure Trail map and follow it to stations throughout the show. (Maps are available in room 101G.) Adventure Trail stations include the Minnesota DNR “Hunter’s Laser Shot Gallery”—where laser games teach kids the importance of hunting safety, the Ducks Unlimited room, where kids can make a turkey call or participate in a coloring contest, a build-and-decorate-their-own -crankbait station in space 94 (donations from each crankbait kit will be given to Regions Hospital’s Burn Center), and the trout pond, where they can fish for free. Kids who visit every station and return their map to the Wild Turkey Room will receive a prize (while supplies last).
There’s a little something for the hunting crowd, the fishing crowd, the camping crowd, and the boating crowd: pros doing live casting demonstrations at the Fish Tank (see how Minnesota fish respond to various baits and casting techniques), do-it-yourself seminars on how to repair boats and motors, new innovations on the market like the world’s first environmentally-friendly propane-powered outboard motor and latest sonar technology, state-of-the-art lures, fly casting and tying demonstrations, representatives from Ducks Unlimited on-hand to share the importance of wetlands and waterfowl conservation, representatives from the National Wild Turkey Federation available to answer turkey hunting questions and share their “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt” initiative to conserve and enhance upland wildlife habitat, and top-notch mariners from the Annapolis School of Seamanship “on deck” to lead courses on general boating safety, proper docking procedures, and more. You can buy a new rod and reel at the show, do valuable research to help narrow down a future boat or RV purchase (and see different RV layouts), even find your next vacation destination.
One of those vacation destinations, Trapper’s Landing Lodge on Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota, will be represented by passionate fishing guide Josh Bullivant, who is giving “Making Big Lakes Small” seminars on Thursday, March 26 at 3 and again at 7 p.m. Josh grew up hunting and fishing in Central Minnesota, has a graduate degree in natural resources management, and was a fishing guide in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness before moving to Trapper’s Landing. He’ll talk about how you can “downsize lakes” and make large bodies of water less intimidating, how he picks key spots on Leech Lake (and Mille Lacs, Red Lake, Vermilion, and Lake of the Woods), and how people can find success on the water, “no matter what fin they’re chasing.”
Wednesday, March 25, 1 to 9 p.m.
Thursday, March 26, 1 to 9 p.m.
Friday, March 27, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, March 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at northwestsportshow.com or at the door and are $12 for adults, free for youth 15 and under with a paid adult, and $9 for those 62 and older on Senior Day, March 26.