When the International Sportsman’s Expo announced it will no longer host a show in San Mateo County, Karen Carbonnet saw it as an opportunity opening.
The owner of California Fly Shop in San Carlos said though losing the staple show is disappointing, it is giving her an opportunity to organize a show specifically for fly fishing that will allow fishermen to get their hands on new equipment and try it out in a pool.
“We’re making lemons into lemonade,” said Carbonnet, who will host the new show at her shop. “The show has always been in our backyard. When they decided to end it, we thought, ‘Why not bring it to our front yard and hold one in our parking lot’.”
The ISE, organizers of the annual hunter and angler show at the San Mateo County Event Center, said the economy and changing demographics in the Bay Area contributed to the decision to shutter the 35-year-old show.
John Kirk, spokesman for the ISE, said in some patrons’ minds, the outdoors have become less of a necessity.
“When it comes to putting food on the table or going out fishing, going out to play is put on the back burner,” Kirk said.
Kirk said the changing demographics have also contributed to the fall of the show. He said though some of the visitors have been coming for generations, there is a new population in the Bay Area that is not as interested in hunting or fishing.
around and therefore anglers do exist. A show is a necessity.Carbonnet, however, disagrees. She said the Bay Area — and Northern California — has some of the best fly fishing spots.
“The Sacramento Delta is only an hour away with beautiful striped bass,” she said. “We have a whole bunch of great fly fishing spots.”
She said she began fly fishing nearly 20 years ago with her husband, Xavier. She said the smaller-scale show the California Fly Shop will host is meant to give fly fishers a chance to test and feel the equipment — something visitors would be lucky to do at larger shows.
“It’s an opportunity to put your hands on the gear,” she said. “Fly fishing is all about casting; it’s hard to do that at ISE.”
Carbonnet said the shop occupies a 440,000-square-foot building with an even larger parking lot. She said large manufacturers — including Simms fishing and Patagonia clothing — have even signed on as vendors.
The California Fly Shop expo is expected to kick off in January, the same month the ISE would have held its show.