A growing number of shows and retail promotions are fueling #anglers‘ passion for #ice fishing, while providing a chance to enjoy discount prices on promising new gear and learn the latest tips and tricks for catching more #fish this winter. Even while soft water still covers lakes and rivers across the North, industry insiders report that the ice fishing season is already off to a strong start.
“I’ve been in and around ice fishing promotions for more than two decades, and for many years it seemed impossible to build any momentum with anglers before Thanksgiving, or before they tag a whitetail, but those days are gone,” says Chip Leer of Fishing the WildSide. “Preseason retail and sport show level events around the Midwest are drawing thousands of anglers who are excited about the coming winter.”
For example, last weekend’s Dakota Angler Ice Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, drew record crowds despite balmy weather and the lure of fall #hunting seasons.
“It was amazing,” says Leer. “You could literally feel the enthusiasm and anticipation. People were fired up. Seminars drew standing room only crowds of more than 200 people each, and everything from augers to shelters, tackle and electronics was flying out the door.”
Leer was on hand to introduce new products for industry stalwarts including StrikeMaster Augers, MarCum Technologies and Northland Fishing Tackle. He also took the seminar stage on Friday night, where he witnessed firsthand the level of dedication show-goers have for the sport.
“It was the last seminar of the evening and still drew a capacity crowd,” he reports. “The entire time, the audience was on point, soaking up the information. Many asked questions they’d written ahead of time at home, and quite a few stayed after the presentation to discuss new products from the seminar in even greater detail. Some even came up to me the next day to talk about the seminar, which means they were there for two days.”
Such promotional events are a win-win for anglers and the industry, Leer believes. “People enjoy the prep time as much as the sport itself, and this gives them a chance to feed the fever with like minded anglers, including some of the sport’s most recognizable experts. Plus, it gives retailers and manufacturers a chance to tap this energy and move the needle in sales.”
Leer’s remaining schedule includes a trio of Minnesota events, including the Gander Mountain First Ice Expo Nov. 21 in Forest #Lake; the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show Dec. 4-6; and Cabela’s Ice Fishing Classic at the Rogers store Dec. 12-13.