Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of year stuff

This is the second week for the Ultimate Fishing Show-Detroit, annual fishing contest. I ask a question and readers provide the answer to me at I need those answers by Wednesday of the following week.
Each week one winner is picked for a good Plano Tackle box. Up to ten pairs of tickets-a $20 value-are awarded weekly. Ticket winners can claim their tickets at the shows Will Call booth while tackle box winners can pick their prizes up at the show office.
We'll through all entrants into a hat and draw for a grand prize of a great rod and reel combo also to be claimed at the show office at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi. Show dates are Jan. 13, 14, 15, and 16, 2011.
See this Sunday's Oakland Press, Macomb Daily or Royal Oak Tribune for the the weekly question. Good luck!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Loss of a loved one is always tragic

The name Adam Starr may not mean much, but if you've ever attended any of the Ultimate Fishing Shows-either Detroit or Grand Rapids-you no doubt saw him.
Adam is an imposing figure. He stands well over 6-feet. But it's his ear to ear smile that will captivate you. It goes along with his almost boyish looks.
Adam is the show manager for these shows and others. He's generally out among show attendees fielding questions, solving problems, and helping in many different ways.
Sadly, on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, at 10a.m. Adam's wife Mary passed away following a short battle with a flu-like illness. She was just 41 and leaves three small children ages 2, 4, and 7.
Arrangements for Mary Starr and a guest book may be found at
Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Quiet the day before Christmas

Our road seems quiet. There aren't many cars heading out, taking occupants to the work place today.
Just about everyone is done shopping. There may still be a bit of a rush this morning, but I'll bet by the time the afternoon rolls around, even the malls will find a scarcity of people.
Our day is spent doing some cleaning and cooking, then later, getting ready for the late Mass and singing of Christmas Carols.
I find that it's nice being outside Christmas eve because it's so quiet. In my running days I never missed going on a run before going to church. It was made more special if it was snowing.
With two total knee replacements I've had to join the walking crowd. Maybe Molly and I will take a short "shuftie" as the Brits call a short walk.
Whatever your plans are for the Christmas season, I hope you have a happy, safe, and merry one.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas remembered

One reader, Sandman who regularly contributes comment to this space wrote about a recent post that talked about the size of gifts received, and that many times it was the smaller gifts that turned out to be the best.
"Truer words were never spoken, Roger. ...'I still have a pair of wools socks my father gave me many years ago but they are saved for the memories of when we fished together in an ice shanty staring into the green water.'
Today, while waiting in line at the grocery store, I asked the lady ahead of me if she was ready for Christmas.
She motioned with her hand to indicate sort of. "I'm going home now to bake cut out cookies," she said with a smile.
"It's funny how something like cut out cookies reminds you of when you were a kid. I look forward to it every year," she said.
So it's not the size or cost of the gift that's remembered but the thought that went into it. The fact that you merely took the time to think of others.
It's the snow falling Christmas eve, going to Mass or church service, singing carols, looking at all the lights in homes, and the pleasure of your friends and family when they are close.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas shopping

Yesterday's column had to do with nearly last minute Christmas shopping along with a few suggestions.
The saying that sometimes the biggest things arrive in the smallest packages is true when shopping for the outdoors person on your list.
Often, a small bunch of different style and color ice jigs, a hand warmer, a warm pair of socks, or some of the new line made for ice fishing will put a smile on someones face.
Ice scoops are one item generally thought of one time. That's the first time you buy one. You may thing it's all you need.
But just like everything else in the sporting goods world, scoops constantly change. Some have a soft metal handle that isn't really good for thick, heavy ice, but wonderful on small lakes when panfishing through smaller holes.
Others are heavier, made of steel and even come with an ice chipper built into the handle. And handles themselves are different. Some are long, others short.
Just like buying a car, keep kicking tires as they say. If you get really down to wire with nothing to wrap then it's time for a Christmas gift card.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold and snow make for outdoors activities

Don't forget to eat your vegetables, wear clean underwear and dress warmly. It's advice most of us at a certain age used to hear from our parents. Mine insisted on the underwear part "in case you get in an accident."
All that holds true today. But this is the time of year when SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder-kicks in and leaves us feeling sluggish, down, and lethargic.
I've noticed it myself the past several years. Now I use one of those lights that is supposed to help boost the levels of vitamin D, the vitamin we get from sun.
Now experts tell us to get outside daily for a walk, whether the sun is out or not. Spend a good hour outdoors doing something.
That something might as well be something you enjoy. Try walking but be careful with ice covered surfaces.
I try to cross-country ski a couple times weekly-around Oakland County give Independence Oaks or one of the Metro Parks a try.
Find something you can do outdoors for a short time then get out and do it. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ultimate Fishing Show-Ultimate Contest

That's right. Step right up and play the Ultimate Fishing Show-Ultimate Contest. As in previous years, I'll ask a fish or fishing related question each week.
Should you choose to enter, send your answers to my by the following Wednesday. The weekly winner receives a new Plano tackle box and a pair of tickets worth $20 to the show. Runners up will receive two tickets each.
The final grand prize will be a really great rod and reel combo. All prizes and tickets can be picked up at the show office for the Ultimate Fishing Show at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi.
Tickets can be claimed at the shows will call window. Stay tuned for the first question this Sunday.
Join in the fun, enter the contest and see the show. Your a winner both ways.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold that cuts!

Funny. You can't wait to get back home from a vacation then the weather hits. We were waiting for our flight in Atlanta to Flint when I spoke with two pilots that I thought would be flying us.
"No, we were supposed to fly to Minneapolis but the airport is closed with 16-inches of snow," one said.
Once airborne, our pilot announced the same storm was headed to Flint but he thought we would beat it.
As we landed we could hear snow/ice hitting the outsides of the windows on the aircraft. Close enough.
Our daughter in the U.K. reports everything is high and dry since we left. No snow or ice left. Oh well. guess it's that time of the season.
Little Molly likes the think snow about well enough to do her business, have a bit of a romp then back in to get wiped down before stretching out on the first available lap.
Happy winter, but do be mindful of snow removal. Hire it done with someone who has a proper plow or do it in bits.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are Show deals really deals?

Tackle dealers, boat dealers and others all offer "show specials" or "special show pricing" at outdoor shows.
Before you step foot inside a show there are some things you should do. Just like a shopping list is a good way to go to the grocery store; it saves you from spending more than you would have without the list, the same is true with a fishing show.
Make a list of what you would like to see, what seminars you want to attend, and the tackle you may be interested in purchasing.
Next, go on the inter net or visit a couple of sporting goods stores to get their current pricing on tackle. That will give you a good basis go work from.
The same is true with boats. See what marine dealers are offering in terms of equipment and prices.
Often, tackle and boat manufacturers will offer special pricing either by way of adding equipment to a boat, or upgrades in tackle. These offers come from the factory and are generally good for the duration of the show.
Going to a show with a good understanding of costs will make you a better consumer.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taking advantage of shows

Most people go to shows to eat a hot dog, walk about and dream about a boat they hope to own, ask a few questions, grab a mountain of free material and call it a day.
They are missing out on the best part of shows. All those seminars. They are absolutely free, are full of valuable information you won't get any place else, and are presented by the top people in the business.
Is that a joke? Not on your life. Why else does Show Span feature Kevin Van Dam, the worlds best bass angler as it's headline speaker?
It gives a certain validity to the show, attracts people which translates into the bottom line, and most of all for those attending, gives people a chance to see KVD up close while at the same time learning something from the best.
You can go down the list of seminar presenters. Lance Valentine of Walleye 101 is a born teacher. You see it in his presentations. So is Mark Martin who is quick with a witty comment and at the same time speaking from years of experience.
David Rose is a great, funny, and informative speaker with the ability to talk about many forms of fishing.
You will learn something from any of these speakers and others that are featured. If I were attending the Ultimate Fishing Show in Novi, I would grab a program when I entered and highlight those seminars and times I wanted to attend.
Bring a notebook and pen along to jot things down like the names and colors of baits, their sizes, and when to use them. You'll also want to copy websites down in case you care to contact presenters or follow their season.
Don't worry about taking notes word for word. Just grab the highlights or the things that are of interest to you.
Many speakers will provide free handouts about the topics they cover. Others will have outlines that are more in depth for sale at inexpensive prices.
Whatever your interest-musky to blue gills-go to the show prepared and with an open mind willing to learn something new.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shows and seminar season

Just after the New Year rolls in, outdoor shows of nearly every description make their annual appearance.
Personally, I like going to them if for nothing more than to see what is new on the market in terms of gadgets.
In prior years, many people brought rods, lures, tools, clothing, you name it, to shows for sale. Much of this was created right out of peoples homes.
For instance, a charter boat captain would get an idea for a lure that he thought would produce. With a little handwork and engineering on-the-fly, a prototype would be produced and the next thing he knew, friends were asking him to make one for them.
If that worked so well, why not make a bunch, rent booth space and have a go at selling them to the general public?
Some of these caught on while others were a flash in the pan. I still have rods and lures I bought from people that thought theirs would be the next thing Kevin VanDam would hold up following his next Classic win.
Some make the grade and others fall by the wayside. It's still good fun to walk around shows and see what the others guys have. Who knows, it may just give you an idea to build that better mousetrap.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow and cold continues in the U.K.

I know this isn't Michigan. But it's worth mentioning especially since one village near here last night recorded the coldest temperature in history for that part of the country, -19 Celsius.
When people learn we are from Michigan they automatically assume we have several feet of snow and Arctic temperatures all winter long.
Two weeks ago I attended a yoga class. It's a first for me, doing yoga with long underwear on. The room was ice cold and took most of the class to warm up.
The sub division or "estate" as they are called here has so much snow and ice, taxi service isn't available. Public transport; buses and trains, are still trying to catch up. Many trains have been stranded out in the middle of nowhere loaded with passengers.
Airports have been closed or on reduced schedules. People in snow removal businesses are working 24-7 trying to catch up.
Walking is chancy at best. Sidewalks remain snow and ice covered. The best place to walk is in the street, but traffic seldom slows down for pedestrians.
Kids are enjoying time of from school. Sleds or "sledges" as they are called here are out in abundance. Hills in the area are full of children sliding down snow-covered hills.
Some Christmas decorations are up making for festive, postcard-like images in many of the older villages.
The cold snap and snow are forecast to last for sometime. So much for global warming.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brits not accustomed to snow

There are cars in ditches, buses sliding on roads, and sidewalks calf-deep in snow with more on the way.
The English have no snow clearing abilities and little experience driving in the stuff. If you had a snow shovel concession here you could sell out in a day, retire and move to the Bahama's!
Even the several sporting clay shooting clubs nearby are silent. Usually throughout the week you can hear the sounds of shotguns being fired.
When people learn we are from Michigan they seem in awe that we live in an area that gets vast amounts of snow. How do we cope, they ask.
Of course, in the states, we generally are geared up for this sort of thing. We've got the snow removal equipment, the salt to put on roads, and probably more importantly, experience gleaned from years of snow fighting.
Out of 300 area schools better than half have shut down. Kids are out on the hillsides "sledging," as it's called here.
At home in Michigan, hunters are in the woods for muzzleloading season. Rabbit hunters are sure to be out listening to the bawl of their Beagles.
And backyard bird feeders will be busy with those colorful Cardinals along with their Chickadee friends.
Old Man Winter has barely gotten a start at home. But over here, he's about as welcome as walking in the road has become.