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Sportsman Show: 2020 Preview

sportsman show postponedUPDATED 03/18/2020:
The 2020 Great Alaska Sportsman Show has been postponed. Please visit their official website for updates.

Whatever outdoor goals you and your family have in 2020, you’ll find something to enhance your fishing and hunting experience at the Great Alaska Sportsman Show. Of course you can see the usual attractions like the kids’ fishing pond, laser archery range, and seminars to take your knowledge to the next level, but there are special deals to be had as well—if you know where to look. It’s a packed show with some new exhibitors plus your tried and trues. One noteworthy change to the Sportsman Show this year is that they’ve condensed the show into three days: It’s now Friday from 10 to 8, Saturday from 10 to 6 and Sunday from 10 to 5, spanning April 3 to April 5.  Be sure to check out the seminar schedule which we’ll include in the next issue in a special section “The Official Show Guide to the 2020 Great Alaska Sportsman Show”.

The thing that’s really special to us about the Sportsman Show is being able to see all our friends we’ve worked with for so long in one place. We’ve have great friendships with many of these people mentioned below. We help each other to improve our businesses, but what’s really special is that we have genuine connections and meaningful relationships with many of these people. We count our blessings when we think about making Fish Alaska for the last 20 years and our evolution to becoming a multimedia company that now has a sister company making websites, providing SEO services and digital marketing for many of these same amazing clients. My brother and I are so grateful to you for allowing us to serve the fishing industry for two decades and we are looking forward to seeing all of you next month.

Newcomers to the Sportsman Show last year, Three Bears Alaska is back and they are bringing a slew of brands perfectly appropriate for Alaska. Among major brand reps, their booth will host the Director of Sales from LEM Products. LEM makes high-quality, fish and game processing equipment that is well suited for the high usage that the average Alaskan outdoor enthusiast gives their food-processing tools. In fact, we use an array of their products ourselves, including their MaxVac Pro and Big Bite Grinder. Three Bears will also be featuring Alpz Outdoor Gear, King’s Camo, Howa rifles, Citadel pistols, their proprietary Grizzly Tech safes, Peak Refuel meals, and Vortex scopes and optics. They will have firearms to sell as well! And they’ll showcase their grocery side too with their jerky, meat snacks, Three Bears spices, and Genesis coffee.

Entry fees into the arena are easily recovered when you take advantage of some of the special pricing from various businesses that offer discounts only at the show. If you are looking for a charter to take you out on the salt this summer, there are a bunch that we would recommend. For starters, in Whittier we prefer Matt Kopec of Whittier Marine Charters. We’ve fished with Matt and find that he and his crew are pleasant, knowledgeable, and very capable anglers. At the Sportsman Show, Whittier Marine is offering six spots for the price of five on charters through 6/15/20. They also offer boat rentals if you are more the do-it-yourself type. At the show they’ll offer $100 off the rental-boat fee. Stop and see Matt Kopec and his wife Meagan Anne to plan your trip out of Whittier.

Mark Burner’s Alaskan Fishing Adventures provides anglers with a good time around the Kenai Peninsula each season. Not only do they provide great saltwater adventures and river trips, they also have several lodge locations under their umbrella to offer the perfect setup for every group. A ringing endorsement for these folks, Fish Alaska Publisher Marcus Weiner had a great time fishing with them and staying at one of their lodges last August. Their Sportsman Show special this year is a full-day, multi-species charter from Seward or Homer for only $250 per person. Stop by their booth on the main floor of the Sullivan Arena to learn more about this special offer.

A bit further down the Kenai Peninsula you can fish Cook Inlet with Bottom Line Charters owned by Captain Ernie Kirby. Ernie and his son Bryan charter trips out of Deep Creek and Anchor Point, while Bryan’s wife Dionne and their son Hunter manage the reservations and assist clients. New this year, the Kirbys have added a second 28’ Alumaweld, the Viking Spirit, allowing both Coast Guard-licensed father and son captains to offer a fulltime guiding schedule this season. You can book with Bottom Line at the Sportsman Show and receive a 10% discount off all individual trips. We had the chance to get out and go razor-clam digging with these folks and had a great time. They also offer bear viewing and sight seeing for the non-fishing type.

Big Dan’s Fishing Charters offers a variety of day trips from Homer on the Blackjack as well as long-range overnight fishing trips on the Game Changer, a 42-foot catamaran with quad Yamaha 425 motors. They’ve also  added a live-aboard hunting transporter service for Sitka blacktail deer in Kodiak as well as riverfront lodging in the heart of Soldotna. Captain Dan and Captain Jesse are hardcore fishermen, and charter guests are coming back with rave reviews about their charter business, including appreciation for Sarah Spies, Big Dan’s wife who runs the business end. One of our staff got to go on an overnighter with them last summer and had a great time. You can read about Rick’s trip in the February 2020 issue. If you book at the Sportsman Show you can take 10% off any trips planned for May, June, or September 2020. They’ll also offer a special $99 per night lodging price for May, June, or September 2020. See Dan and Sarah Spies at the show for details on these special offers.

King Salmondeaux Lodge in Soldotna is one of my favorite places to stay. A short drive up Funny River Road brings you to a private property right on the Kenai River with several lodging options to suit different groups. Five riverside cabins line the banks with over 700 feet of riverfront access. They also have small, efficiency roadside cabins and a couple deluxe, four-bedroom cabins depending on your group size or wants. The cabins are clean and comfortable and when the salmon are running, you can fish right from the lodge. Plus they have a great outdoor space for guests to cook and mingle around a fire. Kenai River Suites, their sister property, is home to two-bedroom suites, each with a kitchen and bathroom. The property is literally in the heart of town, faces the river, and provides private river access for guests. Kenai River Suites is also in walking distance to shopping and restaurants. At the Sportsman Show you can score a good deal with their “Buy 2 Nights, get a 3rd Night Free” offer on either of their properties during the month of June.

Also on the Kenai Peninsula, AFISHUNT Charters is a longtime Alaskan fixture with their large RV park with vast amenities located halfway between Soldotna and Homer in Ninilchik. It’s the perfect base camp to the lower Kenai Peninsula area. You can book your charter trips for the season with their trusted captains and fleet, choosing from a variety of trip styles and options. Their show special is 50% off all charters in May. Come by the booth at the Sportsman Show in the Sullivan and they can describe a typical day of fishing and talk about the best time to go out.

The glacier tours and wildlife cruises offered by Major Marine Tours are remarkable. If you have family coming up this summer or haven’t done it yourself yet, grab one of the 20%-off coupons for one of their 2020 trips. Major Marine offers seven cruise options from 3.5- to 8.5 hours which embark on large, stable catamarans or small adventure cruisers. Major Marine also provides Prince William Sound cruises from Whittier. Make sure to grab your coupon at the show. Their sister company, Harbor 360 Hotel, is a great option for staying while in Seward and they are also opening a new hotel in June of 2020. The Seward Gateway Hotel is just a short walk to the Seward Small Boat Harbor, restaurants, and shops. Learn more at the show.

If you’ve read our magazine for long then you’ve read about fishing with Capt. Jeff Peterson of Kodiak Combos. Jeff and his wife Lianna provide excellent lodging and outstanding charter fishing as well as drop-off hunts in the remote village of Old Harbor on Kodiak Island. This area is home to a prolific saltwater king and silver salmon fishery, ample halibut and bottomfish, plus healthy populations of deer, goats, and bears. The 2020 Show Special price for any of their five-day, five-night trips is discounted to $4250 at the show, a $500 savings!

Several of the visitor centers and chambers we work with will be sharing information about their communities. Discover Kodiak will be set up at the show to provide information and recommendations for folks wanting to visit the island in 2020. Kodiak is a mecca for fishing and hunting—a playground  enjoyed by Alaska residents as well as visitors. Connect with Discover Kodiak at the show, grab an updated Visitor Guide, and start making plans.

A Valdez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau representative will be present at the Sportsman Show to tell you about year-round events and attractions to the beautiful and adventure-filled town of Valdez. Grab one of their 2020 Vacation Guides and book your family’s trip to Valdez this summer.

All summer long there are fishing derbies going on in Valdez that draw a community of anglers who throw their hat in the ring in an effort to win prizes. The Halibut Hullabaloo, Kid’s Pink Salmon Derby, Silver Salmon Derby and the one-day Women’s Silver Salmon Derby draw anglers to Valdez as does the excellent fishing. Fun events are intertwined with each derby. Stop by and visit with the Valdez Fish Derbies coordinator for more information.

A trip to Fairbanks should be on everyone’s list at some point. From the hot springs to a wide range of  streams, rivers, and lakes to fish, in addition to exceptional hunting, there is an abundance to do in the Interior and our friends from Explore Fairbanks will be at the show to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

If you are missing the king salmon fishing days of old in southcentral Alaska, we highly recommend spending your budget towards a fly-out trip to the Nushagak in Bristol Bay. Our dear friends from Bristol Bay Adventures, Mike and Angela Addiego, will be coming back to the show in Anchorage this April. Mike and Angela are like family to us and we highly recommend booking a trip to their lodge on the Nushagak River. No other river in Alaska hosts a wild run of kings like the Nushagak. We make it a point to visit their fantastic lodge regularly.

Tom and Katie Prijatel are the wonderful owners of Alaskan Wilderness Outfitting Company. They provide some incredible fishing on the famed Tsiu River, as well as at their Prince William Sound and Wrangell Mountain outpost cabins, or at their DIY floating cabin. Each is a unique experience and each is filled with loads of adventure and quality fishing.

If you’re a lady who fishes, you’ve no doubt caught wind of FisheWear. Their founder, Linda Leary, will display all their fabulous products including fantastic leggings, unique dry bags and backpacks, neck tubes, hats, rod tubes, tools, fly boxes, wading belts, and accessories, all in their artsy fishing patterns. Their new XTRATUF collaborations are to die for. You will definitely want to choose a pair of the new styles available. The good news is all FisheWear is 15% off at the show. Linda also purchased Women’s Flyfishing from Pudge years ago. They’ve been developing new trips and have a slew of fun lined up for 2020. Sign up for flyfishing or fly-tying classes, one of their group trips or their annual flyfishing school at the show. If you make a 2020 trip deposit at the show you get a free pair of FisheWear leggings as a gift!

FisheWear Sportsman Show
The Sportsman Show brings the industry together with great products and services © Melissa Norris

Have you ever worn Korkers wading boots? They are my personal favorite and that of several of our staff anglers. They are coming to this year’s show to introduce their new Terror Ridge Wading Boot that you can find featured on page 90 of this issue. There is just something about Korkers that feels tons more comfortable than the other wading boots I’ve worn. This new boot is designed for the toughest wading conditions, traversing across uneven and rough terrain. Their Kling-On and Studded Kling-On interchangeable sole package is perfect for Alaska. Come meet these wading-boot experts at the show. They also make the warmest winter ice-fishing boot I have ever worn in my 20 years of field-testing gear for Alaska. The Snowmageddon is the last winter boot you’ll need.

If you’ve been thinking about how to get more mobile on the water, then visit Alaska Raft & Kayak on the east wall of the Sullivan Arena floor. At the show Mark Cohen and his team will be offering great pricing on Inmar Inflatables, NRS and AIRE rafts, Hobie kayaks, and more. There will be some extra-hot, screaming deals on a few select items as well, including a 15½ -foot InMar Hypalon, Aire Mammoth, and Aire 136 DD and 126 DD. Maybe you’ve been thinking about joining the kayak-fishing fleet. Talk with Alaska Raft & Kayak at the show and pick their brains. They are knowledgeable experts regarding inflatables and fishing kayaks, plus they have an assortment of other non-fishing related sports equipment for boating, raft, and paddle-sports enthusiasts.

Some families are headed to the Sportsman Show with a big ticket item in mind. The Alaska Mining & Diving boat display is always a crowd draw. Tour the KingFisher 3125 GFX Offshore if your family wants to fish and explore. According to AMDS management, KingFisher builds boats that offer the comfort needed for families who spend extended time together on the water. You can also tour the 2825 Coastal Express that performs well for Alaska. AMDS will also be showing off boats from NMI Marine, the makers of Sea Sport and C-Dory pilothouse-style boats. Fiberglass boats bring warmth and elegance to the boating experience, according to Nick Olzenak.

Representing Sea Sport’s standard of excellence, you can view the 28-foot Commander as well as the 25-foot TomCat catamaran by C-Dory. If you need to power your new boat or improve the power on your existing boat, Alaska  Mining & Diving can help set you up with Honda, Suzuki and Evinrude outboards. There are an array of choices, each with their own qualities. Come talk to one of the AMDS sales teams and factory reps about features and learn which system is best for your boat.

And because AMDS is the recreational toy and accessories expert, you will also find them in the Ben Boeke Arena where they will display the ROXOR off-road vehicle that features a steel body on a boxed steel frame. They’ve also brought Can-Am ATVs and side by sides, including various 2020 Can-Am Outlander, Can-Am Defender XT and Can-Am Commander XT models. AMDS will also be presenting Honda power equipment including generators of various sizes for camp, the shop or emergency backup of your home. Want to learn more? You can listen in weekly to the Outdoor Rec & Living podcast with Nick Olzenak from Alaska Mining & Diving. Access the podcast through their website, or on social media.

Ashbreez Boatworks, located in Anchorage, is a versatile, multifaceted, boat repair facility capable of a wide range of projects, from major boat repairs, fiberglass repairs, topside repainting and refinishing, marine-system installations and more. Check them out at Booth 348, 349 and 350 in Ben Boeke 1. This is also the 5th year Ashbreez is highlighting their collaboration with Armstrong Marine USA. This ongoing relationship produced the first Ashbreez 32’ recreational aluminum Resurrection series power cat, a 28’ aluminum monohull in their St. Elias series, and a St. Elias 28XL commissioned by a Florida customer for use in Florida and the East Coast. Stop by and talk with Joel and Chad about your dreams for a new boat or making your current boat like new again. Ashbreez is the first marine business in Alaska to retrofit several vessels with the Optimus 360 joystick control system and Electronic Pilot System (EPS) for outboards by Seastar Solutions. Customers are loving it, especially when combined with a Sea Station and Sea Ways system. They are also dealers for the Lonestar Marine GX series anchor winches and Shockwave seats and bases. Stop by and see these great guys at the show.

If you own an ocean boat in southcentral Alaska, make sure you see the folks from Sea Tow Southcentral Alaska—a membership-based service that provides 24/7, on-the-water assistance to boaters in need. Its members are covered if they need a tow, fuel delivery, jump start, disentanglement (a line tangled in the propeller), or a covered un-grounding from a sandbar or shallow area. Sea Tow Southcentral provides on-the-water assistance in Homer, Whittier, Valdez, and Seward that boaters can count on for just a small price. Their Sportsman Show discount gives new and renewing members $15 off their annual fee. You can’t miss their booth, they are right next to us on the main floor of the Sullivan.

E-Z Anchor Puller Mfg. Co. will showcase their Hero, Patriot and Rebel drum anchor winch series at the Great Alaska Sportsman Show. Their knowledgeable staff and unit displays will be at Booth 21 in the Sullivan. See their patented units on-screen and in-person, demonstrating an innovative, modern solution for anchoring that Alaskan charter fishermen proudly utilize all along the Pacific Coast. Provide an email address to the associates at the show booth and receive their 10-for-10 Deal: guaranteeing you 10 percent off of the unit of your choice when you order within the next 10 days.

If you’re not sure which winch is for your boat, just consult an associate and they will guide you through the specifics for the installation that best accommodates you. E-Z Anchor Puller drum anchor winches are, “a better way to anchor.” Whether you’re pontooning on a lake or fishing in the Pacific, their units are a no-brainer solution if you’re fed up with tangled lines, tying off to cleats and dealing with unit specific ropes and chains provided by the competition. Patented motors are IP68-rated stainless steel, guaranteed to never rust or corrode, and all units from large to small are warranted for seven years. Installation is a breeze: you can do it yourself or get help from an authorized installer or dealer near you. For recommendations on dealers and installers, call them at 800-800-1640 or visit their website and click on the “Dealers and Installers” tab to find their company’s authorized partners approved for the job.

Maybe your flow is more for the rivers.Then stop and see Jake and Roger from Clackacraft who come up from Oregon to display their great power drifters and drift boats. “Fear No Rock” is Clackacraft’s motto and those who have fished from these boats know how good these boats are. We’ve owned several Clackacraft drift boats over the years and still do.

Upstairs in the Sullivan Arena you can find Hunt Alaska Backcountry Nutrition columnist and good friend Larry Bartlett of Pristine Ventures. Larry has a breadth of  float fishing and hunting experience. He  has written several books about float hunting in Alaska and is the inventor of the PR-49 Packraft you will want to obtain if you spend time fishing or hunting in the backcountry. Larry will be at the show with special discounts on his easily transportable inflatables from the Kork to the Legend.

If you own a boat, truck, or RV, go see our pals at Six Robblees’ of Anchorage, on the main floor of the Sullivan Arena. Six Robblees’, with three locations statewide in Alaska, specializes in truck and trailer parts used by many Alaskan families. Stop by to learn about show specials.

This year’s show brings Roadpost to Alaska who will be displaying their newest product, ZOLEO. ZOLEO provides seamless global messaging that follows you in and out of mobile coverage by connecting to the ZOLEO  app on your phone or tablet. It also includes personal safety features like SOS alerting and weather forecasts. Come by booth # 326 to learn about this new product that is sure to have significant impacts on how Alaskans are able to stay in communication when traveling beyond cell coverage.

The Surveyors Exchange in Anchorage offers satellite phone sales and rentals, and airtime, and you can also rent or buy a Garmin inReach from them. They are also a dealer for the new ZOLEO product. Stop by and see The Surveyors Exchange for your communication needs at the Sportsman Show. They will be having show specials on all of these services from new and previously-owned Iridium satellite phones to deals on airtime and the InReach. Having rented satellite phones from these folks often, we can safely say they are great to work with.

Representatives from Garmin will be at the Sportsman Show displaying marine electronics and other Garmin products like the inReach to help customers understand their full benefits. Get tips for maximizing their use in the field.

kids' fishing pond great alaska sportsman show
The kids’ fishing pond is always a big hit for families. © Melissa Norris

Find the outdoor display area for Camper Valley RV at the Sportsman Show. They sell true four-season campers for Alaska. They’ll have a good mix of all their brands and models from motorhomes, 5th wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, and truck campers. Not only will they be offering their best pricing at the show, but the bank rates are at their lowest point that weekend during the show helping RV seekers to save thousands of dollars.

If you are a bowhunter who is ready to upgrade to a new bow, stop and talk with Dave Stoddard from Full Curl Archery. Dave is an avid bowhunter. He is super knowledgeable about the sport and the gear. They give lessons at their shop in south Anchorage to folks of all levels of archery experience, plus host an archery league and archery events. Dave will give you $100-$150 off all in-stock bows during the Sportsman Show weekend. Stop and see him at the show and learn which bow might be the best for you.

When you add up the savings and bonuses that the exhibitors offer, and the knowledge you gain by talking with the experts in the Alaska outdoor industry, it’s easy to see why you should come to the Great Alaska Sportsman Show from April 3-5 at the Sullivan and Ben Boeke Arenas in Anchorage. Please make sure to stop by and see what Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska have to offer this year for gifts with purchase on our varying subscription levels. As stated, our favorite part includes seeing friends at the Sportsman Show each year and that includes longtime readers.

For more information about the show, find the most up-to-date digital show guide here or visit the main show page.

 

Melissa Norris is Publisher and co-founder of Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska magazines since their inception in 2001. She is also the COO and Creative Director of their new LLC, Peak Run Media, an ad agency specializing in digital marketing, that she owns with her brother and dear friend, Marcus Weiner.

This post originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Fish Alaska magazine.

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