Nothing beats running into “Chef Todd” Kent, the multi-talented one.

Anywhere.

Any place.

Any how.

Which I did just as I was leaving the MUSKIE EXPO Chicago Friday at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

“Dude, you have to come see the hottest lure at the show,”  said “Chef Todd,” who had already maxed out at $700 in purchases only 1 1/2 hours into the show.

What he wanted me to see were the topwaters from LakeXLures. They ran in size from the hefty half-pound Cannonball to the Cannonball Jr. to the Fat Bastard to Dr. Evil.

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Designer John Kleczewski, of Park Falls, Wis., said that over deep weeds the bigger props and bigger profile would bring the muskie out. It also works better in rainy conditions because of the fuss. He said it could  be fished in three-foot waves.

It is made from high-impact plastic. He made some wooden ones for friends.

The topwaters also catch northern pike and bass.

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My favorite of the day was the 14-foot guide boat from Winchester Boat Works, that is what I voted as Best of the Show for new products.

Curtis Kruschinski, son of Willi, the founder, gave me the rundown. Willi, who came from Hamburg in Germany, founded the company in the 1960s and sold it to a former customer, Zane Bussler, a couple years ago.

Cost runs $10,000-$13,000. But there is a show special for $9,600.

Though originally designed for muskie row trolling, they are so beautiful they are registered art at the Smithsonian.

But, Kruschinski noted, “Nothing is more beautiful than a big muskie flopping in the bottom of the boat.”

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My other top pick for brand-new product at the show was the Good to Go, a portable toilet for boats from Just Encase Products, Inc.

Rachel Schmitt, daughter of designer Bob Schmitt, said the idea came from a customer who wanted to fish with his wife. Smart idea for a husband.

My favorite response came, while I was talking with Rachel, from Landy Roepke of Waterford, Wis., “What the hell?”

That’s about right.

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There is just a few of the newly designed Pounder Bulldawg at the show at the Musky Innovations booth. These are redesigned Pounders.

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And a history in carving of The Wolly Pog at the Nimmer Swimmer booth.

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Something to behold is the debut of the Evinrude E-TEC H.O. 200. It is just massive.

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First thing at the show that caught my eye was Lance Ceasor of Battle of the Beast Guide Service working the tank, testing every one of the new Battle Shad for Musky Mayhem Tackle. The secret to it, according to Ceasor, is that “it wobbles like crazy.