International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo is a welcomed winter relief

Climbing the walls? ISE offers more than 600 exhibitors, 200 seminars and much more
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It’s wintertime. With almost no hunting and limited fishing, outdoors-oriented men and women stay indoors. Our eyes can see fish jumping and a monster buck walking by in scope range. Like it or not, it’s still some months away.

So, when the International Sportsmen’s Exposition comes around each winter, outdoorsmen and women are champing at the bit to explore aisle after aisle.

It’s all there, spread throughout Cal Expo in Sacramento from Jan. 10-13 with more than 600 exhibitors, some ready to sell products at reduced prices and others talking about how great their getaway is. There are more than 200 seminars, hands-on features, contests and numerous demonstrations.

The ISE fills five buildings and spills outdoors. There are products for anglers, hunters, campers, boaters, ATVers, RVers and traveling adventure seekers. Hundreds of lodges and resorts join guides and outfitters, answering questions and booking trips. And most vendors will offer show prices on their products and materials.

Kent Brown of Roseville will head the bass fishing seminar at the big demonstration tank, and he’ll be aided by other bass pros, such as Auburn’s Skeet Reese.

There are numerous theater offers begging for your attendance, such as The California Sportsmen Theater that’s headed by one-time tackle manufacturer Sep Hendrickson, passing on his knowledge of fishing.

The Adventure Theater is sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which will host numerous seminars. Building C will have the Fly Fishing Theater and will be attended by some of the world’s top fly casters passing along their knowledge.

New this year is the archery contest with competing Robin Hoods shooting at 3D pop-up targets.

For those with a strong heart, there will be a 300-foot zip line to ride. Look for the lines to be long at this one.

In Building D will be the Youth Outdoor Sports Fair, which opens 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11. There will be pros teaching life skills and conservation awareness. As usual, there will be the pond where aides will be available to help your youngster bag a fish.

With California hunters no longer allowed to use dogs to pursue bears for hunting, there will be a seminar bear and others hunters might like to attend. There will be seminars on scouting for elk and even gold panning.

There will be boats and RVs to look at. There is virtually something for everybody.

The ISE will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 10 and 11, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 12 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 13.

General admission is $15 and free for kids under 16 and active military with an ID. Parking costs $10.


Current fishing


Despite all the rain, local rivers are dropping due to lessened upriver water releases from dams, and foothill lakes are being heavily planted, which will enhance any fishery.

Folsom Lake: The lake has risen enough where they’ve thrown the 5-mph speed limit out the window. There is still runoff debris on the water, so going full bore can present a danger with rip-rap floating, some unseen just below the surface. It’s a good idea to have somebody up front in the boat keeping watch.

There are trout and salmon to be taken. Just don’t expect limits. Concentrate in the deeper water around the dam and the old river channel that runs from the dam to Brown’s Ravine. You can pound the water with everything in the tackle box and still not get any bass. They’re tough to come by right now.

New Melones: The good news is the DFG is planting the lake every week. The lake is in fantastic shape for boating and shore angling for recent planters and the larger holdovers. If you troll, leave the lead core and downriggers at home. All you need do is top line. Lures such as Rapalas will work, or a #003 Needlefish, Excels, Kastmasters and Speedy Shiners.

Big trout are cruising the shallows and can be nailed by parking yourself on the shoreline. Wind-protected coves are a good bet, and right around Glory Hole and the Highway 49 Bridge is good, too. Don’t fish deep. Use a cast-a-bubble. Tie a three-foot leader onto a barrel swivel and float either a woolly bugger, a wet fly, or garlic-scented Power Bait in either rainbow or chartreuse. Don’t forget floating a night crawler with a marshmallow. Fishing for big trout at this lake in the winter is legendary. Now is the time to go.

American River: At the last check, water releases from Nimbus were reduced from 10,000 cfs to just over 6,000. That helps, but perhaps not enough. The good thing is you can go with heavier gear than you would have to use if the water were slow and clear. Before the river opening below the Hazel Avenue Bridge to the power lines near Ancil Hoffman Park, the early indications of catches in the basin were hopeful. The fish being caught are chrome bright, and there’s a bunch of 10-pounders. You still need to use just enough weight to bounce bottom without hanging up, and that can be tricky. For bait offerings, roe will be your top bet, but night crawlers also are good for steelies.

Lake Amador: They’re planting big trout — really big trout. Anglers have hauled big rainbows up the hill with a number of them more than 10 pounds. The biggest went near 13½ pounds. And they continue to put 600 pounds of trout in the water each weekday. While the lake is now within 16 feet of the top at the spillway, you can forgo the cost of taking the boat and get into plenty of good fishing from shore. White Power Bait has been working along with white Power Eggs. Float a crawler under a cast-a-bubble. Cast-retrieve a rainbow-colored Kastmaster or even a small, purple jig.

Jenkinson Lake: Limits are the rule. Before you get to the gate, turn right and go to the second dam. It’s an easy walk from there to the lengthy shoreline. Soaking Power Bait, you can put a limit of ’bows on the stringer in a couple of hours.

Eagle Lake: The lake is closed to fishing until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This lake has taken a terrible hit over the last few years as water levels keep decreasing. Hopefully, with the rain and snow that have fallen, the lake level in May and through the 2013 season will improve. There is no dam at Eagle Lake to release water.

Contact George deVilbiss at