`‘Commemorating your loved one’s ashes in a creative way’’ stopped me.
I had just started through the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo, running through Sunday at the Schaumburg Convention Center, when the Commemorative Creations and Customs booth (105) pulled me in Thursday.
As somebody who plans to be cremated and have my ashes spread in pre-selected spots, this really stopped me.
“This is a different way to commemorate or memorialize someone,” Justin Halper said.
So far, he has incorporated ashes into the guides on fishing rods, the paint in four portraits and a dozen custom-painted lures.
‘‘You can take Grandpa or Grandma with you fishing,’’ he said. ‘‘It is something different.’’
Halper, a fireman from Wichita, Kansas, is on to something. He has had the idea for 10 years. He began custom painting lures (his custom-painted original Wiggle Warts caught me) about four years ago.
‘‘It took about a year to get good at painting,’’ he said.
Two years ago, he went to the Bassmaster Classic in Houston with his idea. This was his first time at ‘‘The Schaumburg Show.’’
I asked what the response was, and he said about 70 percent thought it was cool, 20 percent thought he was nuts and 10 percent thought he was ‘‘bat—- crazy.’’
In a somewhat-morbid way, I think it is cool enough that I will rethink plans for my own ashes.
Here are some other things — other than a multitude of people I needed or wanted to talk with — that made me stop on opening day.
I use braided line a fair amount. It’s a magical, powerful line, but it has one major drawback: It’s tough to cut. Enter Line Cutterz LLC (Booth 327). It makes a magic ring that makes it a snap to cut braided line. I tried it and thought I was being clowned, but it is legit. It has been featured on ‘‘Shark Tank’’ and ‘‘The View.’’ Line Cutterz has a show special of $12 for one or $20 for two.
I bumped into Steve Statland, the muskie Hall-of-Famer, at the Vermilion Dam Lodge booth (830). One of these years I want to take my wife along on a trip to Vermilion Lake in Minnesota.
Bumping into Statland is always an interesting time. This time he gave me a great idea of logging what bodies of water I’ve fished in my life around the world.
Matt Arambasich of Joliet, who is a regular guest at the Lodge, was manning the booth. He said when he is on Vermilion Lake for an extended time, with no television, in the evenings he hand writes a sort of diary of the day. I may push their ideas more. It’s the kind of thing that interests me.
As usual, I found myself spending a good chunk of time at the Shimano booth (537) talking pheasant hunting with Kyle Danhausen, Lake Michigan fishing with Capt. Ralph Steiger and simply basking in the smallmouth glory of Tim Schneider.
If you have kids, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Booth 908) is a must because of the lampreys sucking up on a glass aquarium. There are good temporary tattoos for kids, too. Also for the kids, in the usual corner, are Chauncey’s Great Outdoors and the Chicago Herpetological Society (Booths 24-27).
Guide Ken Jackson of Jackson’s Lakeside Cottages (booth 718) in St. Germain, Wis., (making its first appearance at the show), gave me a couple good stories about Carey Pinkowski and his family. Pinkowski, executive race director of the Chicago Marathon, gets out with Jackson a couple times a year.
The Blue Bank Resort (Booth 405) usually has a bunch of big crappie on ice. Not this year.
‘‘My guess is somebody got them and ate them,’’ Michael Hayes said.
I can only imagine packing for the show and popping open the freezer and finding the big crappie gone.
More ethereally, the beauty of the drift boat the Croff Craft Guide Service/Drift Boats booth (707) made me want to come back to find out more.
As always, Lee’s Global Tackle (220) was my favorite booth of the show. If I was a more of a dedicated bass fisherman, I would be trapped there.