Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some Thoughts Before the Show

Cameron Mortenson setting up
It's 6 AM, and the sound of typing wakes me up.  Cameron is working on T.F.M. posts.  He works through them with skill and ease, an obvious pro.  Cameron can whip out two blog posts in the time it takes the rest of us to tie our shoes. I'm resisting the urge to look over his shoulder.  I got to the Expo Center around 6 PM last night, picked up my press pass, and managed to bump into the likes of Derek DeYoung, Matt Zudweg, and April Vokey.  Jeff, from Brookhaven Lake gave me some info on the grayling and brook trout fishing they have, and I was pleased to see he had copies of the Cedar Sweeper magazine at his table.  I was even more pleased to see that I have an article in the new issue- pleased and surprised.  When did I write that?

For me, fly fishing has always been a solo pursuit, and the social aspect of it is fairly new.  I attended this show last year and had a great time, but this year I'm here in official capacity and get to see it from the inside out.  I've also been blogging, writing and networking for the last year, and more people know me.  Tommy Lynch, The Fish Whisperer himself, comes wandering down an aisle and so I show him his picture in my article in Blood Knot.  He had no idea.  Lou Burhart has button-holed me to cast his bamboo rods and talk a little grass- I'll add him to the interview list.

We went to the hospitality dinner put on at the hotel and had a decent dinner.  I'm sitting between two guys I don't know.  One turns out to be a rod manufacturer from Rochester New York, the other guy, I'm not sure what he does.  Mortenson know's two of the guys at the table, and a husky dark-haired fellow reaches across the table to shake my hand with his own great meaty paw- it's Shane Gray of Gray Wolf Rods.  He likewise button-holes me to cast his rods, a request I am quick to accept.

This may be my favorite part of such a show.  The room is poorly lit, the conversation a little subdued despite the room having at least 250 people in it.  There is an undercurrent of excitement that is palpable.  Everyone is friendly, congenial, everyone says this is their favorite show that they do.

Becca Schlaff.  That brown behind her is from one of my photos.  Just sayin'

I arrived as soon as the doors opened this morning.  Becca Schlaff is carrying in paintings, and everywhere is the hustle and bustle of vendors putting the last polish on their booths.  It's going to be a great show.

I had the chance to sit down Joe Sprys and ask him a few questions about the show.  He's the show's coordinator and a member of the Michigan Fly Fishing Club, which puts on this Expo each year.

Joe Sprys, Midwest Fly Fishing Expo director

FR:  How long have you been having the Expo?

Joe: This is the 34th year for the show.  It started out as the Rod Makers Gathering.

FR: Excellent.  How many vendors do you have this year, and how many people do you expect to attend?

Joe: We have 138 vendors this year.  Attendance has steadily grown over the years, and we were just shy of 4000 last year, so we're hoping to top that.

FR:  I've talked to quite a few vendors so far and everyone says this is their favorite show of the year.  What do you think explains that excitement?

Joe:  we have a great club, a tremendous volunteer force, 125-150 volunteers involved with the show.  For a lot of the vendors, this is the last big show on the circuit, they're on the road for back to back shows all winter, and so they know they're going home after this and let their hair down and have a little fun.

FR: Can you tell me a little about the Michigan Fly Fishing Club?

Joe: Sure, it was started in 1975, we have about 350 members, and we are an independent club (not part of FFF or TU) dedicated to conservation issues and through this event we've been able to raise nearly $600,000 for conservation.

FR: Well, I know you're busy with this event so I'll let you get back to is.

Joe: Great, thank you very much!


  1. That's amazing that the event can raise that much money. Nice post!

    1. Yeah, the Michigan Fly Fishing Club is doing a great job. It really is a great show.

  2. Nice... It certainly is a great show.

    1. Chris- I really appreciate you seeking me out and saying hello. Thanks for the fly, I'll give it my best shot. I really enjoyed our conversation- I'm a science AND fly fishing nerd and love all of that background info. You're next in the interview loop, as long as you're willing to put up with me.