Great Alaska Sportsman Show 2017

The 34th Great Alaska Sportsman Show begins March 30 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, and it’s sure to be a good one. This year’s show is shaping up to be one of the best ever, with quality exhibitors offering all kinds of great, exclusive-to-the-show deals, and hundreds of vendors spread across the Sullivan and Ben Boeke Arenas excited for spring. 

There are sporting goods stores, charter operators, flight services, conservation clubs, community visitor centers, boat dealers, RV centers, raft and kayak retailers and more. With so many vendors it makes sense to plan ahead, and if there’s a lot you want to see then just pay the extra $7 for the weekend pass so you can come back and take it all in. The $11 single-day entry fee per-person and $6 cost to park is minimal compared to the savings an Alaskan fishing and hunting family can glean from making their purchases at the show.

Fishermen always need something for their tackle arsenal each year so everyone should swing by B&J’s. They’ve been a part of the Sportsman Show for the last 20 years, a major sponsor of the show for 10 and providing quality gear and excellent service to Alaskans for over 60 years. Whether it is new line from P-Line, a new reel from Penn or Shimano or all-new halibut rods for your charter boat, B&J’s has popular products that work well for Alaska as well as some screaming deals on everyday, useful items for sporting enthusiasts. Their experienced staff will be on hand to help you make selections. And you can get a free G•Loomis sticker at the show while supplies last if you ask them at their Anchorage Sport Show booth. 

You’ll want to go by Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle to talk with Tony “Famous” Davis, Alaskan lure- and jig-making guru, and Kristin Dunn, fishing fanatics and our personal friends. At the show they have their armory available in all varieties, and in the words of Tony, they’ll be unlocking their secret vault and sharing all the new bling they’ll be coming out with later this year. 

Sportsman’s Warehouse has a booth in the Ben Boeke with deals on all kinds of goodies for the outdoors. They will have their Jumping Jack trailers that are perfect for ATV use and all sorts of clothing, fly gear, spinning combos, gun cases and more. Use one of their $20 gift certificates they hand out at the show in the store later and you’ll have paid entirely for your Sportsman Show entry!

The Sportsman show marks the kickoff to spring and it’s an excellent time to line-up a saltwater charter or spring hunt before the roads and businesses are filled with visitors. Fishing in the salt in March, April and May out of Seward or Homer provides fun king and halibut combo opportunities. You don’t have to wait until June for the freshest seafood; you can get out and start filling your freezer and you’ll harvest this delicious fare at a discount this time of year. There are some great deals for residents from charters we trust and they’ll be there filling up their calendars at the show. 

One saltwater special is offered by Alaskan Fishing Adventures, who provide lodging and charters in Seward, day-trips from Homer and a full-service lodge on the Kenai called Anglers Lodge. Their Sportsman Show special promotion is an overnight trip on select dates in May that includes lodging for one night at the Exit Glacier Lodge, plus a full-day fishing trip out of Seward for a total of $300. A second person can join you for only $275. These trips are available to Alaska residents only. Fishing is notoriously excellent in the early season and for the last few years May has had some of our nicest weather of the year.         

Seward-based Aurora Charters operates four vessels accommodating small and large groups. They have excellent captains and can put you on good fishing. They will be at the Sportsman Show visiting with customers and taking reservations.

Kayak fishing is becoming all the rage in places such as Homer, Deep Creek, Seward and Whittier. It’s an affordable way to get out on the saltwater so you can fish year-round, plus you get a little exercise with pedal kayaks like Hobie makes. Their Alaska dealer Alaska Raft & Kayak will be present at the Sportsman Show with the industry-leading Hobie fishing kayaks including the Mirage Pro Angler 14 camo version. If you are looking for more information about kayak fishing check out the seminar by Rudy Tsukada, one of Alaska’s most experienced kayak fishers and part of the Hobie fishing team. Alaska Raft & Kayak is also the longstanding NRS and AIRE dealer in Alaska. These folks carry a variety of useful raft styles including packrafts for jumping on float planes and getting remote. Alaska Raft & Kayak also retails the military-grade Inmar inflatable boats that can be set up to fish or used for a safety feature on your big boat. People are impressed with the quality and price-point. Stop by the booth and talk with Mark and Daniel.

If you are a river-drifting fisherman in boat-buying recon mode, you should talk with Jake and Roger from Clackacraft Drift Boats. Be sure to find out about their Sportsman Show discounts because Clackacraft makes some of the finest drift- and power-drifter boats on the market. We’ve owned four Clackacraft drift boats and we are confident you’ll be happy owning one.

When it comes to remote access, Pristine Ventures’ PR-49, Kork and Legend rafts are popular raft models among fishers and hunters in Alaska for their transportability and their carrying capacity. Meet designer and avid backcountry hunter and fisher Larry Bartlett upstairs in the Sullivan.

With so many people to see in both arenas, make sure you talk to the folks who make it possible for you to get outside! The expert crew at Alaska Mining & Diving is on hand with their Honda Marine outboards and Evinrude outboards, Can-Am ATVs and side by sides and other goodies for us sporting types.  This spring AMDS is showing off the new 23-foot Coastal Express and the 22-foot Escape HT boats by Kingfisher, the fastest growing brand of welded sport fishing boats that are designed and tested in big Alaska waters. Also exciting on the Alaska Mining & Diving front is the news that they are re-introducing SeaSport and C-Dory to the Alaska market as their exclusive dealer. They make beautiful pilothouse boats that are so well built it is hard not to wish you had one. AMDS brought up the C-Dory 25-foot Classic Cruiser and the Tomcat 25 Catamaran this spring for Alaska. They will also have the well-appointed SeaSport 24-foot Explorer and the 26-foot Kodiak models for you to tour. You can see the boats at the show or down at their shop.

If you already own a boat but you’re in need of a major repair or other boat works then please meet Chad Morse and his son Joel Morse of Ashbreez Boatworks in Anchorage. They work hard to provide superb service on a variety of tasks for boaters, including repowering, systems installations, repainting and refinishing, marine electrical repair, general repairs and maintenance. In addition they are making custom boats in collaboration with Armstrong Marine of Port Angeles, WA, who build aluminum bare hulls for Ashbreez using Armstrong’s popular designs. Then Chad and Joel finish out the custom design based on their customer’s wishes and work directly with them to meet their needs during the building process. These guys are knowledgeable and work with a variety of materials, staying in touch with industry standards and new materials.

You might be thinking about buying an RV this spring, and if so, stop by and talk with representatives from Great Alaskan Holidays during the Sportsman Show. Not only will they have higher-end models to drool over, they’ll also have some new RVs from previous years that they are able to offer significant savings on. Aside from the wide variety of RV models they bring to Alaska to suit everyone’s preferences, the service at Great Alaskan Holidays is known to be high quality. They have the depth of knowledge and technical expertise to support their coaches and they want to make RV buying and renting a worry-free experience for their customers. Bob Johnson, Director of Marketing shared, “Great Alaskan Holidays is one of the most innovative RV companies in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  With over 30 years of experience in the tourism industry, we very much appreciate the ongoing opportunity to service our customers, and to participate in the Great Alaskan Sportsman Show”.

Since outdoor families use boats, trucks and RVs in Alaska, Six Robblees’ great Anchorage staff will be exhibiting on the floor of the Sullivan Arena promoting Leer truck caps and various RV parts and accessories. Six Robblees’, with three locations in Alaska, specializes in truck and trailer parts that Alaskans want and need.

The folks from Ron’s Honda in Soldotna are bringing a 1410 Frontier by Stabicraft for the first time up to the show and you’ll get to see firsthand the quality of Stabicraft boats. You’ll want to ask them about the 2500XL Weekender model they are promoting this year. Ron’s Honda will also have their ATVs and side by sides made by Honda so you can’t beat the quality. If you are making it a mission to get out and enjoy more in 2017, then visit with the folks at Ron’s Honda.

If you are searching for some new outdoor experiences for your household and visiting relatives this summer first get them their own Fish Alaska subscription and then go talk with the emissaries from the various chambers of commerce and visitor bureaus from around Alaska, including our friends at Valdez CVB, Explore Fairbanks, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, Homer Chamber of Commerce, Seward Chamber of Commerce, the Valdez Fish Derbies and Discover Kodiak. All of these communities have excellent fishing and hunting opportunities to learn about. Between our magazine and their local tourism and business experts, you’ll be able to figure out the best time to go, the best people to work with, and everything else!

If access to the lower Susitna drainage for fishing, hunting and snowmachining is what you seek, then stop by the Deshka Landing Outdoor Association booth to look into seasonal or year-round passes at early-bird pricing. Their purpose is to provide year-round access to the lower Susitna drainage including the Susitna River, Deshka River, Yentna River and Alexander Creek and all of their tributaries. The facility includes a boat launch and services such as storage, a gas station and restrooms. Their webcam provides useful weather updates, too, and it’s a great area to access excellent outdoor opportunities.

Maybe you’re finally ready to book that special trip to Kodiak to fish, hunt or both. Go meet the first-rate people at Island Air and Andrew Airways. They each have top-quality flying operations in Kodiak you will be happy to work with. We also recommend you talk with Jeff Peterson of Kodiak Combos, who we’ve worked with since we started the magazines. We trust Jeff to put you on excellent fishing and hunting in Old Harbor and Lianna to give you a comfortable stay and delicious meals. Jeff shared an Ultimate Cast & Blast show special that will be valid through the first Monday after the show. You can hunt Sitka blacktail deer and mountain goat, fish for king salmon and halibut in the ocean, fly-cast in rivers for silvers, and hunt ducks all on the same trip. That is pretty epic. The normal price for this 5-day, 5- night trip is $3,850, and the show special is $3,500. Jeff also said that some customers don’t want the whole package, and being face-to-face at the show helps them accommodate most of their needs.

If it is moose you want in your freezer, then head over to meet the folks from Alaska Monster Moose Transporters, Inc. to hunt 139,000 acres of private land with a healthy moose population. They take you by boat from the village of Holy Cross to their camp in Unit 21E where you can experience a self-guided moose hunting trip on their private land with a good number of moose in the area. Their 7-Day DIY Sport Show special is a flat $2,500 for Alaska residents to book for 2017 or 2018. Go see them if a remote moose hunting trip is on your list. You save $650 by booking and paying in full at the show.

Since the goal of most Alaskans is to get remote, we encourage you to talk to the folks at Guardian Flight, who can educate you on their Apollo MT emergency transportation membership program for your family’s peace-of-mind. They offer a 10% discount off their membership program through their Sportsman Show special offer using code GAKSS17. You can obtain the membership for year-round protection or for 3 week’s time if you have a special trip planned. We were astounded to learn that Alaska averages over 4,750 medevac flights per year.

You’ll most certainly make it by the Kid’s Fishing Pond if you have your little hunters and fishermen with you. Afterwards make sure you find the Tuff Kids Outdoors booth #326 run by owner Becky Schwanke. Tuff Kids Outdoors provides the best-quality gear for kids fishing and hunting in Alaska. Becky sells the popular Oakiwear waders for kids, high-quality rain gear and now she is featuring Sitka Gear hunting apparel for youth, which everyone knows is seriously good quality. It’s a great chance to line-up your kids with their current sizes for this summer or upgrade your kids’ gear so they can spend more time outdoors with you.

There are also some great raffles like the one held by Shoot for the Cure where your $20 raffle ticket could win you one of two guns. Learn more about getting a team together for the big Shoot for the Cure Event at Birchwood Recreation and Shooting Park that is their annual fundraiser to directly benefit Alaskans with cystic fibrosis. Teams of five get together to shoot trap, skeet and 5-Stand and raise awareness and funds to benefit those with the disease. The needs of Alaskans with cystic fibrosis is even greater with longer travel distances, tough weather conditions and limited resources. Shoot for the Cure donates the money they raise to help supplement patients in need of medical and travel expenses, scholarships for young adults with cystic fibrosis and generally help to take a burden off patients and their families. You’ll be enriched talking with Karen Rey, the co-founder of the Alaska chapter of this great organization.

If you wish to be among other outdoor enthusiasts who are happy to give back, learn more about the Alaska Fly Fishers and their community outreach and fly-fishing opportunities by talking with their members. And volunteering at the Safari Club booth you’ll meet their various members who love to hunt and work to fundraise and make a difference in Alaska’s conservation.

The show producers are busy lining up some new and interesting seminars. Garmin experts are giving two presentations on the uses of their InReach product that is popular for safety in the Alaska wilderness. They will also be giving two presentations on understanding CHIRP sonar. They have a booth if you miss their seminar. Chugach National Forest reps are talking about avalanche safety as well as fire safety, both of interest to avid Alaskan outdoor families. A new presenter at the show this year is Mark Tuter, who’ll be giving people tips on planning a trip to hunt in Africa, if you’ve ever dreamed of going. All seminars and presentations are sponsored by B&J’s Sporting Goods.

It’s not all entirely fishing and hunting at the Sportsman Show as Alaskan families, lodge owners and folks from around the state are used to buying in bulk to be prepared. For that reason Sam’s Club on Dimond is exhibiting at the Sport Show to promote their memberships. This location has a personal mission to fundraise for causes and support all types of community events. They have great people working there and you can save money on your most common purchases. For the show they are offering a special for military personnel who can receive up to a $25 gift card with a new or renewing Sam's plus membership. They are also eager to let folks know about their Scan & Go and Curbside Pickup services as well as the free, helpful Sam’s Club app.

We work with a bunch of best people in the industry who come together to provide a great Sportsman Show for 2017. Talk to our friends at Full Curl Archery, LFS Donalson’s, Lifemed Alaska, Mahay’s Jetboat Adventures, The Surveyor’s Exchange, Ahtna, Alaska H2O Sports, Alaska Northern Outfitters, Anchorage Yamaha and Whittier Boat Rental. Make sure you beeline for Indian Valley Meats, where they can set you up with some tasty treats to walk around and snack on while you browse. There are plenty of new and exciting things to see at this year’s Sportsman Show. Please also come by the Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska booths!