Between 5,000 and 6,000 people came out to the National Sports Center in Blaine last weekend for the inaugural Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo.
There were a wide variety of vendors for the Nov. 16-18 expo at the Schwan’s Event Center. Vendors sold fishing gear, shelters ranging from tents to trailers complete with beds and a kitchen, lodging getaway packages and much more.
Several professionals, such as Brian “Bro” Brosdah and Dave Genz, gave presentations throughout the expo.
“One hundred percent of the vendors were extremely happy with their sales and the turnout of people,” said Greg Savino, expo director.
Savino heard that Thorne Brothers, a custom rod and tackle shop based in Blaine, repeatedly sold out its merchandise and had to re-stock. Clam Corp sold out its shelters on many occasions and had to order more from its warehouse.
Savino is looking forward to expanding the show next year to draw even more people.
A lot of visitors came from outside the metropolitan area. Bobbie, Steve and Ryan Schuna of Lindstrom came to see what gear the ice fishing expo had to offer. Ryan and Steve are within 15 minutes of multiple lakes and like going ice fishing every weekend they can. Chisago Lake and North Center Lake are their two favorite spots.
Bennett Evling, 9, Becker, was one of 135 kids who caught a trout before 7 p.m. Friday night in the Midwest Extreme Outdoors fishing pond set up outside the Schwan’s Event Center. Savino reported on the number of fish caught.
Joe Palermo, owner of the Clear Lake, Wis., business, said the monetary donations they accepted from those who wanted to fish from this portable pond will be used to host 15 to 20 fishing events for kids throughout the year.
There were people from the metro area as well, of course. Lance Gentry of St. Francis and Phil Dewey of Isanti were at the expo to look at ice fishing shelters and the underwater video camera fish finders. MarCum Technologies and Aqua-Vu brought this equipment to the expo, according to Savino.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]