An outdoor view: Improving the sports shows

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2005

Things would be a little different if they'd let me organize the outdoor sports shows in Soldotna and Anchorage.

There would be a seminar for women, "Dressed to Kill." Hot models would demonstrate how to combine silk, lace, rubber and leather for best effect in the field.

People would swarm to "Fishing Safely Without a Lawyer," a seminar on interpreting the sport-fishing regulations for the Kenai River.

I wouldn't allow any mounts or photos of fish or game in the guides' booths. Those invariably are misleading, and they distract you from what you should be doing, which is asking questions. If you're considering a wilderness sojourn on the lower Kenai River in mid-July, you might ask, "How many hundred people will be in sight at any given time?" If you're venturing out onto Cook Inlet in a charter boat, you might ask such questions as, "When was the last time you repowered your 1954 Chris-Craft?" They don't tell you this stuff in brochures.

I'd like to see a seminar on how to find the kind of place you find only in outdoor magazine stories. People would pay big bucks to know how to find that legendary place where reels truly "scream," line really "melts" from reels and fish actually do "explode."

We need a seminar that would teach the pitfalls of greed. It could be titled, "The Longest Day: Dealing with 128 Dead Sockeyes." Participants would be served a snack of freezer-burned smoked salmon.

It would be refreshing to see someone in a booth selling a book titled, "Fishing Alaska on $2,000 a Day." Rather than appealing to Joes and Marys in $20 hip boots canning salmon on the tailgate of a '70s-era pickup camper, such a book would appeal to Jacobs and Emilys in Simms chest waders, who stay in exclusive lodges and fish for Arctic grayling in pristine lakes with 3-weight Sage rods, Ross reels and 2-pound tippets. One wouldn't sell many books, but one would be dealing with a better class of people.

It's nice to have a fleet of boats parked at a sports show, but something else is needed. I'd hold a seminar on how to explain to the "better half" why it's necessary to spend so much money on a boat that fish end up costing in the neighborhood of $500 per pound. In fact, I need this seminar right now.

How about a "Kenai River Defense Course"? Participants would be shown how to quickly remove fish hooks from flesh, so they could get back to fishing. They'd learn how to stifle laughter when their significant other falls out of the boat, how to get more elbow room at the Russian River without resorting to gunfire and other practical techniques of maximizing outdoor enjoyment.

I'm just full of good ideas for sports shows. For more, please send money.

Les Palmer lives and writes this stuff in Sterling.

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