Sportsman’s Corner: Show time

Published: 02-01-2024 5:02 PM

Modified: 02-07-2024 2:29 PM

By Mike Roche

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, let me recommend the New England Fishing Exposition. The show will be in Marlborough, just off Route 495 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center and opened today.

After the Covid era, it is great to see events like this one and it clearly shows that outdoor shows are back, with a vengeance! Show hours tomorrow are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show is packed with great things to see and experience with special appearances by several well-known fishing personalities. You will also find a trout pond for fishing (a huge attraction for kids!), many of the latest boats on display (bring your checkbook!) and exhibitors from around New England and the country offering great fishing destinations and a peek at the newest innovations in fishing gear. There will also be a huge bass tank for demonstrations. This show is definitely worth checking out!

Of course you all need to have the Springfield Sportsman’s Show on your calendar. The exposition, held at the “Big E” in Springfield, is the “grandaddy” of New England outdoor shows and always is a great take for sportsmen and women and their families. Again, this year, the show is packed with great exhibits, knowledgeable exhibitors, and entertaining and informative seminars. In my opinion, the Springfield Sportsman’s Show also features more great outdoor products for sale than any other venue. Let’s face it, a little “retail therapy” is sometimes just what we need, and it is great to head home with something new to feed our hunting and fishing addiction instead of having to stare at the driveway waiting for the delivery man to bring us our order. The show opens Friday, Feb. 23, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 25. You should check out the show website for the time of the seminars, which include some of the best of New England’s hunting and fishing experts.

Like everybody else, yours truly is more than eager to do some ice fishing. However, a sobering news story from Maine reports a well-known town leader in Carmel, Maine, drowned last week after rescuing his 4-year-old son after they both fell through the ice. It is a sad story and a reminder to all of us to use extreme caution on any body of water. The ice is not what we would expect for this time of year and every excursion should include all precautions to prevent something really bad from happening. I know people will be out. Follow the procedures and have someone with you and make sure the means to safely rescue a person is readily available.

Last weekend, it was my pleasure to attend the New England Brittany Club’s annual Game Dinner and meeting. The organization is 75 years old and very active. The business meeting was followed by a catered meal and those who braved the storm were awarded with a great selection of tasty food that was an Italian dinner which left no one hungry. For me, this was my introduction to the group, which holds organized dog training events and trials almost all year round.

My association with the group goes to back to my working days as a teacher at Mahar Regional when Fran Phillips was the ‘anchor’ of the school’s Special Needs Department. In addition to being a tremendous advocate of students and supporter of the staff, she was passionate about bird dogs, particularly American Brittany Spaniels. She was on top of everything from field trials to rescue and we often had great conversations about dogs.

It was inspiring to see how committed the CNEBC members are about training their dogs and now French Brittanys like mine are included under the Brittany umbrella. The event gave me a chance to finally meet one of the group’s leaders, Paul Shirley. We have some common friends, including Clint LaFary of Sur le Delavan Kennel in Illinois where my last two dogs have come from and Pat Perry of Hedgerow Kennel. Paul has outstanding dogs (French Brittanys or EBs from the Epagneul Breton which is the formal breed name) and his dogs are used by Rhode Island biologists when banding woodcock chicks for research. A dog has to be outstanding in order to do that job.

Paul has informed me of events that may be of interest to watch or participate in with Tessie. Of particular interest is the American Brittany Association Grouse and Woodcock Championship and the New England Brittany Wild Bird Championships. They are both held in Rhode Island in March. Some of the best dogs in the country will be running and spectators can watch. Should be very interesting!

Last Saturday, Tessie ventured to Hedgerow to handle a couple of birds at the weekly member training sessions. She did quite well for a dog who has been idle since November. The plan is to get restarted with her training, weather permitting.

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the MaharFish’N Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, former Connecticut Valley District representative on the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, has been a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at