There was no coffee in the house this morning. After about fifteen hours away from home yesterday, most of them spent walking around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, I certainly needed a cup or five of java. I did a quick run to the grocery store, and now that I can smell the bitter aroma of Maxwell House brewing away in the kitchen, I feel a little more up to writing about my experiences at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show.
The 63rd Annual Toronto Sportsmen’s Show started with the cutting of a green ribbon at the foot of the escalators leading up into the north hall. Why a green ribbon? That’s simple, really. The kick-off of the show corresponded with that most important of holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, there was much green to be found all around the show (and I’m not talking about the algae in the water). At any rate, when the ribbon was cut, the forty or fifty attendees milling about flashed their tickets at the security guards and headed up the escalators to the north hall, at first being greeted by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and then moving around to see a rather large number of boats from all the major manufacturers.
Since it was ten o’clock in the middle of the week, the first hour or so of the show was fairly quiet. I took a quick spin around the boating area before going in search of coffee. With my digital snapshot and video cameras in tow (or in my backpack, I should say), I got my cuppa and then checked out the boating and motorized vehicles (ATVs, trucks and the like), occasionally snapping pictures or shooting footage for the second episode of Fish & Beer.
Things were still fairly quiet when I abandoned the north hall to make the long trek to the south hall, where I knew I’d find more fishing, hunting and general outdoors vendors.
Without the money to buy a boat, my interest in watercraft is fairly limited, so I didn’t feel much like looking at the various manufacturers’ offerings. Although I did stop to look at a couple of shopping areas, my goal was to get to the south hall. If you’ve never been to the MTCC, the south hall is a good size larger than the north hall, although it doesn’t have the natural light of the north hall. It’s a bit of a trade-off in that respect, really.
The first stop in the south hall was supposed to be a quick one. Fly fishing had been pushed into its own little area, and while I have never fly fished in my life, I wanted to take a look before moving on to the big hall. I’ve had my father’s fly kit for the last couple of years, but it still hasn’t got any use. I keep telling myself that one day I’ll learn about fly fishing, but it never seems to be the right time.
Yesterday turned out to be the right time. I ended up spending more than an hour (possibly even closer to an hour-and-a-half) in the fly fishing area, at first talking to guys at a couple of shops, then learning about Wilson’s (a fly fishing store in Toronto), and then being pulled aside by a man by the name of Pat Kelly.
Pat was teaching kids and adults about tying flies, and with a space open at the fly tying table, he invited me to learn. With hours to go at the show, I decided it sounded like a good way to spend some time — while also learning something new — and sat down with Pat (who was also really good about working my video camera to get footage of me at tying the fly; thanks a lot, Pat).
My first tied fly ever was a Woolly Worm with a bright green body, yellow feathers and a black tail running out the back. The process turned out to be more fun than I thought it was going to be, and I now cringe at the idea that I may have just stumbled across a new hobby (because I really don’t need any more).
With a new fly in my possession and ready for some time on the water, I tucked it away and then asked my teacher about casting. I spent most of the rest of my time in the fly fishing zone with a rod in my hand and a long pool of water in front of me. While my cast still isn’t spectacular, I certainly improved over several dozen casts.
Now I just need to get out fly fishing. The good news is one of the guys who helped me learn to cast is in the Bowmanville area and told me that Duffin Creek, which runs through Ajax, is a good fly fishing spot. I’ll commit that bit of information to memory and make sure to take my father’s fly rod out sometime soon (and maybe actually use the fly I tied).
The fly fishing area turned out to be the highlight of my day, followed by the four o’clock “strike zone” seminar hosted by Bob Izumi of Real Fishing. While the hunting and travel areas proved to be less interesting than the fishing zones, I did take advantage of the archery range and fired off five shots at a deer-shaped target.
My archery instructor gave me some good pointers on how to aim a bow, and although there was one wild shot that missed the deer completely, I don’t think I did too bad. In fact, bow hunting is something that’s now rolling around in my head. Of course, that’s another hobby I don’t need, even if it would be fun.
Overall, the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show was well worth the time spent, and I wish I could go back again for another day.
My evening ended with a technology media briefing and a Raptors game, pushing my final return home to after eleven o’clock.
It was a long, eventful day, and I returned home happy. I was also satisfied with my purchases, which included a telescoping fishing rod, a pair of Quantum fishing gloves and fishing clips designed to make attaching lures much quicker. And, of course, there’s my Woolly Worm, which I’m aching to try out.
The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is on until Sunday. If you’re into fishing, hunting or just the outdoors in general, try to find the time to go check it out.