Written By: Bill Amason
Obabikon Bay Camp
Sleeman, Ontario
Originally Published in the June 1991
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


After working productive sport shows for 20 years, it has occurred to me that the pendulum has swung into the non-productive area. Ever so gradually sport shows have changed from a place where fishing information is exchanged to a carnival atmosphere of hawkers and price gougers selling almost anything.

Sport shows are no longer a place to invite old guests to visit…not unless you want to expose them to the exaggerated claims of the competition. Human nature tempts everyone to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. There are always new resort operators willing to give away product and services in order to build a business. Years ago some of us established our businesses in that very way. Now that we are established it could be a big mistake to invite happy customers to the sport show. All will be tempted. Some will be bitten. Sport shows today can result in a greater loss than gain.

Why are sport shows not what they used to be? Very simply there are too many shows and too few customers. Even as sport show attendance has increased in recent years, the NEW customer pool has been shrinking. Sport shows have increased attendance by expanding the number of booths and by offering a variety of goods and services from beef jerky to septic tank cleaners. At the same time the new fisherman pool is shrinking.

Are the “All Canada” style shows a better way to go? Perhaps, although these shows have also diluted the new customer pool. The “All Canada Shows” might be compared to major league baseballs’ winter trade meetings. Guests of various resorts represented come to the show as “free agents” to consider offers from other resorts. Some resorts make major concessions to land the star players of other resorts. If you are unwilling to make major concessions you get no “free agents”. The number of players (fishermen) available is directly proportional to the number of teams (resorts) present. Some win. Some lose.


There has to be a better way. Today’s fishing resort operator must be alert for new customers. Here are some suggestions.

What is the best way to advertise on television? As cheaply as possible…by trading your services for air time. All fishing shows are looking for material. You can offer a place to stay, boats to use and fish to catch. When you arrange a show at your resort be sure to ask the television host to include footage of your cabins and lodge and insist that your phone number be shown.

There are other very good yet inexpensive ways to advertise. First you must decide what market you are interested in. Next determine how much you have to spend.

If you want to advertise in a fishing magazine, you can stretch your dollars considerably by requesting an article that would serve as a lead-in to your advertising. For example, if you are on a trout lake and have a secret relating to catching deep water trout in August, convince the magazine to write about it. Your advertising will follow the free editorial.

If you want to start a bus trip, ask a local sports writer to do an article about it in the local paper. Offer him a free trip as the celebrity host and coordinator. Use the bus trip editorial as a lead-in to your advertising. Always make a plan to stretch your advertising dollars.

Remember this…good advertising is simply repeating the things that work and not repeating the things that do not, even if they used to. Do not be afraid to try new things. Do not get too secure with old things. 


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