The big show opens in Schaumburg: Chicago fishing

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I bumped into “Chef Todd’’ Kent a couple weeks ago when show season opened and asked when he would be at the “Schaumburg Show.’’

“When Gerald Swindle is there, G-Man,’’ the inimitable Kent said.

We all have our personal favorites or necessities when hitting the big outdoors show of the winter. The Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo opens at noon Thursday at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

Time management will be key. Especially since most of the big players in fishing will be there.

In recognition of the Big Game, the show opens at 9 a.m. Sunday and closes at 3 p.m. Hours on Thursday and Friday are noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

As for Kent, Swindle will lead off atop the Hawg Trough at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, then again at 5:30 p.m.

I will be at the Stray Casts booth (booth 22) every day, primarily with Pat Renwick and Johnny Mouratides while Bobby Bergren, Capt. Ralph Steiger, Steve Kwolek and sundry others will pop in and out. I will tour the show multiple times and, as always, will find new nuggets. But here are the particulars I know I will try to sneak off to see.

Lee’s Bait & Tackle (320-324) is a must and has been the most interesting booth at the show every year since the show opened with its innovative Japanese Domestic Market products. That stuff is flat out cool.

I need to stop by Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle (309), partly to say thanks to Brian Gates for his weekly fishing reports, but also because he is one of the few who sells a jigging spoon that is killer on lakefront perch (a tip from Arden Katz).

I need to hit a host of others, including a mom-and-pop jig company where I replenish my jig supply each year.


The cutting edges in modern fishing are electronics and kayaks. For electronics, I highly recommend Mark O’Neill, who will combine two of his many interests, electronics and fishing Geneva Lake, at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Seminar Hall. Multiple kayak reps at the show. Check them out. The advances in kayak fishing have been exponential.

Staying on the cutting edge, the Cast Crew, that intersection of urban lifestyle and fishing, is at booth 423.

As for speakers and presentations, my must-sees are Mark Zona (2:30 p.m. Thursday, Hawg Trough); Denny Sands on bass and walleye fishing at Shabbona Lake (1 p.m. Thursday or 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Seminar Hall), Dustan Harley on a year on the St. Joseph River system (7 p.m. Thursday or 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Seminar Hall); the muskie forum Jim Saric is hosting at 6 p.m. Friday, and Mike Iaconelli (10:30 a.m.or 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Hawg Trough).

The fun of a big lively show is finding different things. That will come as the week goes on.

STRAY CAST: Bill Nye is to Bill Belichick what bowfin are to northern snakeheads; Ernie Banks is to baseball what jumbo yellow perch are to Chicago fishing.

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