International Sportsmen’s Exposition – a welcome winter relief

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It’s wintertime. With almost no hunting and limited fishing, outdoors-oriented men and women stay indoors, thinking and dreaming of the warmer temperature we know will come soon.

For some, that’s not soon enough. Our eyes can see fish jumping and a monster buck walking by in scope range. Like it or not, it’s still some months away.

So, when the International Sportsmen’s Exposition comes around each winter, outdoorsmen and women are chomping at the bit to explore aisle after aisle to see what’s available, to dream and drool of unfulfilled excursions.

It’s all there, spread throughout Cal Expo with more than 600 exhibitors, some ready to sell their products at reduced prices, others who will talk about how great their getaway area is.

It’s not all just stop and see and talk across counters. There are more than 200 seminars that could help you be more successful in the field, hands-on features, contests and demonstrations.

The ISE fills five building, and exhibitors will be spread over several areas outdoors. There are products for anglers, hunters, campers, boaters, ATVers, RVers and traveling adventure seekers.

Hundreds of lodges and resorts join guides and outfitters, answering questions and booking trips. Most vendors will offer show prices on their products and materials.

Kent Brown of Roseville will head the bass fishing seminar at the big demonstration tank and will be aided by other bass pros, such as Auburn’s Skeet Reese.

Do you know how to really use a cast-iron Dutch oven? There’s nothing you can’t fully cook in a Dutch oven – if you know how and are willing to try. That big pot of iron can do snacks, meals and desserts, including cakes and pies. Don’t believe it? Go to their site and watch it being done.

Have you watched the National Geographic Channel’s “Wild Justice,” a show featuring California’s Department of Fish and Game wardens and what they go through? You can meet wardens this show has featured – Jerry Karnow and Lt. John Nores Jr.

Some anglers are easily intimidated by electronics or can’t interpret what they see on a screen, such as a Fish Finder. Instead of admitting they don’t know how, they use it as a depth finder only. Well, Lowrance just might have the seminar for you – on use of these electronic units.

There are numerous theater offers begging for your attendance, such as The California Sportsmen Theater headed by one-time tackle manufacturer Sep Hendrickson, passing along his knowledge of fishing.

The Adventure Theater is sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which will host numerous seminars. Building C will host the Fly Fishing Theater and will be attended by some of the world’s top fly casters who will share their knowledge.

Don’t leave the kids at home. The Youth Outdoor Sports Fair will be in Building D.

It’s your job to teach them to have a love and respect for the outdoors. Pros will teach life skills and awareness of conservation, something they can put to use in the field.

As usual, there will be the pond, where aides will be available to help your youngster bait a hook, cast and bag a fish, something they’re not always guaranteed in the wild.

It’s such a thrill to watch the kids’ faces as they hook “the big one.” Some look so serious. Others scream with glee. Many parents capture that special moment on camera.

There will be boats and RVs to look at.

The greatest emphasis may be on hunting and fishing, including exotic regions, but there is much more to enjoy. There is virtually something for everybody.

The ISE will open at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, and run through Sunday, Jan. 23. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

There is no admission for those who are active military and have a military ID and those who are under 16 years of age. The rest of us have to fork out $15, and it’s well worth the money for what’s easily an all-day event.

Generally, you can visit and find a discount on tickets. There also is a $10 parking fee.

Contact George deVilbiss at