COLLINSVILLE – After not having a show in 2020 because of COVID-19 cancellations, the Let’s Go Fishing show was back at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville over the weekend.
There was still a show last year in 2021 that drew similar numbers to this year’s show. Show producer Jamie Lane estimates that the show brings in roughly 8,000 to 10,000 people to the Gateway Convention Center over the course of a full weekend.
Along with 104 vendors selling fishing tackle, rods and reels and fishing boats, the show also had free seminars, live demonstrations, a live animal exhibit and a small pool for kids to fish live fish out of. Other activities for kids included face painting and balloon animals.
The seminars included speeches from Brandon Palaniuk, who won the 2020 Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper and was named the 2017 Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
“All of these vendors have experienced growth with products and resources,” Lane said. “Boats are selling faster than they can get them out.”
Since fishing is an outdoor activity that can be done with social distancing in mind, COVID-19 actually increased interest in fishing.
The show was missed by vendors and spectators in 2020 because of the in-person interaction. Even though online stores are used by most businesses, nothing can simulate the face-to-face interaction of shows and events of this caliber.
“They enjoy it, and this is the perfect avenue for that,” Lane said. “People are excited for an event like this.”
Bluff City Outdoors, located at 2813 E. Broadway in Alton, was in attendance as a vendor at the show. They’ve been at the show for nearly 20 years now.
“We come out hear to see our local fishermen and have a good time talking fishing with everyone,” owner Mark McMurry said. “It’s good to see our customers, see new faces and be back out in the public.”
McMurry emphasized the fact that people are developing fishing as a new activity during COVID-19 times, as fishing license sales increased for the first time in 30 years.
Bluff City Outdoors has seen an uptick of customers of all ages coming into the store who are new to the fishing world.
With the Mississippi River and a number of Illinois rivers nearby, McMurry said this is an underrated area of fishing because of the size and quality of the catfish.
“They don’t realize what’s out there and it’s amazing,” McMurry said.
Bluff City Outdoors hosted the Alton Catfish Classic for the first time in 2019 and …….