Facts, figures and interesting stuff from opening day at the Northwest Sportshow, which runs through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center:
• What kind of winter has it been Up North? Dick Garbe, owner with his wife, Robin, of Northernaire Houseboats of Rainy Lake (northernairehouseboats.com), hasn’t been to his fish house on the big lake for five weeks. “I can’t get to it,’’ he said. “We’ve got 24 inches of ice on Rainy, with 16 inches of slush on top of that, and 2 feet of snow on top that. I can’t even get to it with an all-terrain vehicle.’’ Garbe will wait for warmer weather before trying to bring the fish house to shore. Did the Department of Natural Resources give him an extension to the March 18 deadline for fish-house removal? “They said no,’’ Garbe said.
• Reed Custom gun safes (reedcustom.com) of Warroad is exhibiting an innovative sliding gun-holding system at the show. The “vertical sliders,’’ as they’re called, come installed in Reed safes or can be purchased for insertion in other gun safes. The sliders store guns vertically in racks that slide from the safe for easy storage and retrieval — eliminating the messy helter-skelter gun placement common to most safes. The holders that secure guns in the rack also can be purchased individually, either with suction cups (for placement on vehicles while pheasant hunting, for example) or screws (for mounting in duck or goose blinds).
• Gary Early of Early Fishing (earlyfishing.com) of Soldotna, Alaska, said it’s unclear yet what type of king salmon run will occur this summer on the Kenai River. The fabled river was shut down much of last summer to king fishing because fish were lacking. An excellent sockeye run is expected, however, and Early said one option might be to fish the nearby Kasilof River for kings. Kenai Riverbend Resort of Soldotna (kenairiverbend.com) is also at the show and running a per-person $1,395 special that includes six nights lodging, four charters, continental breakfasts and fish processing.
• An idea whose time has come: The Oxygenator (keepfishalive.com) is a high-tech cooler that keeps minnows alive and active during transport from the bait shop to your vehicle to your boat. Or — in this day of invasive species regulations — allows you to transport fresh water in your vehicle to the lake, into which bait can be transferred after fishing and kept alive indefinitely. This keeps anglers from running afoul of the law prohibiting transport of lake water. Power to the cooler can come from a cigarette lighter, portable battery or wall socket. A kit is also available to transform standard coolers into similar bait-keepers. Oxygenator show price: $179.
• Harald Lohn, owner with his wife, Ann, of KaBeeLo Lodge (kabeelo.com) in northwest Ontario, reports that 40 inches of ice covers Confederation Lake, home base to KaBeeLo’s sprawling outpost-camp operation. Lohn is unsure whether the lake will be ice-free when the Ontario walleye season opens May 18. “I expect some of the smaller lakes where our outpost cabins are located will be open, though’’ he said.
• Boat dealers at the show are upbeat, saying increasing sales that began with the Minneapolis Boat Show in January have continued. That’s apparent also by the greater amount of floor space taken by dealers at the show this year. Annual retail boat sales in Minnesota total more than $300 million, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Nationally, 2012 boat sales rose about 10 percent from 2011. Best news for the consumer might be the ever-increasing fuel efficiency and reliability of the newest outboards.
• Always had trouble following that break line on your favorite lake while trolling for walleyes? Or casting for bass? While at the show, check out the precision-tracking possibilities while using a Humminbird/Minnkota/Lakemaster combination (all products of Johnson Outdoors). Combined, the units enable your Minnkota iPilot bow-mounted trolling motor to follow, via GPS, a predetermined contour on a Lakemaster map loaded into a Humminbird sonar/GPS unit. More at humminbird.com.
• Finally, we have the Fryin’ Saucer Guys (fryinsaucerguys.com) of Columbus, just north of the Twin Cities. Their brainstorm, newly redesigned, provides anglers with a portable fish fryer that weighs less than 20 pounds and quickly breaks down into five pieces for storage or toting. Perfect, said Jim Traeger, one of the Fryin’ Saucer Guys, for shore lunches, tailgating and camping. Show price: $110.
Show hours Friday are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours Saturday are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $11, kids 15 and under free. More at northwestsportshow.com.