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Featured Article: Show Coverage

The Hottest Sportmen's Expo (ISE 2003) returns to San Mateo, CA (Part 1-Overview)

Date: 2/4/03
Location: San Mateo, CA
Event Dates: 1/29-2/2
Admission: Adults: 10 Dollars 
Kids 12 and under: Free
Reviewer: Team TackleTour

Introduction: Welcome to the 28th annual International Sportsmen's Exposition (ISE) in San Mateo.  The ISE located in San Mateo, CA is the largest shows on the West Coast.  Inside the many halls you will have the opportunity to see and compare, put to test, and buy the latest in fishing, hunting, camping, and boating gear. Team TackleTour excitedly takes you through the each isle to give you the latest scoop on anything and everything related to fishing.  Part 1 of this article will be a brief overview of the show.  Stay tuned for Part 2: Best of Show products and Part 3: Fly Fishing Overview.

Impressions: The excitement one gets when going to the Sportmen's Expo begins the minute they pull into the parking lot.  Many people quickly park their vehicles and eagerly head over to the entrance with anticipation. The crowd and noise from people conversing about all things fishing, ATV's running on the new test track, and dog handlers giving commands to sporting dogs really bring life to this outdoor event. As you walk into the fishing halls your eyes will spring wide open.


There are two big main halls at the San Mateo Expo Center where for a few days houses the largest sportsmen show in the West 


The ISE show is located at the San Mateo County Expo Center that features 2 large halls and 3 smaller ones, plus many outdoor areas for additional displays.  The main Expo Hall holds anything related to Sports fishing while the Fiesta Hall is focused on Fly Fishing.  Each of these halls is packed with manufacturers, dealers, guides, pro-Anglers, and of course people crazy about fishing and outdoor activities. We were very excited to visit all the fishing displays and see what the show had to offer for hunting, camping, and vehicles such as trucks and ATV's.


Anything goes at the show.  You can even get your hands on a reel that costs up to $700, the Shimano Stella


"Do touch": Shows are all about seeing and getting your hands on gear that you might buy in the future, or even right at the show.  Manufacturers display many of their offerings and the best part is, you CAN pick up and try the gear for yourselves.  This is the place where you can try out the smoothness of each fishing reel from different manufacturers, bend those rods, sit in your dream boat, and much more.  And when you have questions there is always a knowledgeable personnel around to answer you.  Also what's really great for fly fishermen is that there are indoor and outdoor casting ponds for you to try out what the manufacturers have to offer to find something that will match your needs. (For additional fly fishing information, stay tuned for Part 3 of the ISE Show Coverage)


Demo tanks are always a hit at the ISE show because one can listen to and see techniques being demonstrated by the pros.  For 2003 they bring in The Bass Bin that's loaded with bass, catfish, trout, sunfish, and sturgeon


Demonstrations: One of the best parts of the ISE are the exciting demos and seminars that are given at the show in mainly the two fishing halls.  The sports fishing hall have theaters and "The Bass Bin" demo tank where local pros share their experiences, techniques, tips, and answer questions from the crowd.  In the Fiesta Hall there are two fly fishing theaters.  One where you can obtain knowledge and secrets from pros and guides on their quality fishing holes, and second the Fly Tying theater where many quality flies are being crafted by skilled hands.  Also there are seminars given in the casting ponds located in the center of the hall and new for 2003 the Kayak Demonstration pool located on the West end of the building.


The outdoor fly casting ponds are a place for both newbies and the more experienced to cast different types of rods.  For the beginners there are pros around that can give you some casting tips to get you started


Watercraft: This year the International Sportsmen's Expo in San Mateo has one of the largest boat displays ever, taking up about 1/3 of the Expo hall floor space and pushing the other manufacturers to have smaller booths.  Here you will see boats from many manufacturers and watercrafts for both salt and freshwater fishing.  Aside from motor powered boats there are also the more affordable rides such as inflatables and kayaks displayed in both fishing show rooms.


This year you can see many boats at the show.  It almost reminded us of a car dealer where new cars are lined up row after row


Great Deals on Tackle: Looking for less expensive tackle?  Bargain hunting?  Well, this is the place to be.  Some items have a regular price tag, but if you look around, you will find some that are dirt cheap, and they still hold the quality and warranty of the product you find on store shelves.  There are many local tackle stores selling products that you might already have, and some new items that have just arrived on store shelves.  Aside from that you can also find some manufacturers selling their own fishing goods right at their booths.


Guides: Looking for an experienced guide to take you on your next outing in the middle of nowhere?  This show is a good place to start on your search.  Professional guides from all over the world flock to the San Mateo ISE to pass out information on fishing tours they provide, allowing you to ask questions, and of course to sign up for those unforgettable adventures.


New to ISE 2003 is the kayak demo pond.  Fly fishing from kayaks is the topic of this exciting new display


For Kids Only: The annual ISE show is packed with toys for adults, but that's not all.  Bring your kids along to the ISE can be a fun and rewarding experience because ISE dedicates one show hall just for kids!  Inside you will find parents and their children taking part in different events that are aimed towards our future Anglers and outdoorsmen.  The hall holds two pools in an enclosed area where experienced volunteers from the Department of Fish & Game and a few others where they teach and help your children how to fish, have fun, and of course land that lunker.  Both the deeper and more shallow ponds hold different species of fish: Catfish, Bass, Rainbow Trout, and even Sturgeon!  All bait and gear are provided at this event, and that's not all.  Aside from having a blast, kids 12 and under can enter in a drawing to win prizes and also take home giveaways provided by sponsors.


Kids have a great time fishing at the Redwood Hall that's for kids only.  Your children can fish in a safe enclosed area under adult supervision

Conclusion: The International Sportsmen's Exposition in San Mateo is an excellent place to be if you enjoy outdoor activities, and especially sports fishing and fly fishing.  Isle after isle you will see manufacturers of all kinds, each displaying their most valued items where you will have the opportunity to pick up and try the latest and greatest.  Aside from seeing new tackle one can also indulge on the seminars where a lot of good knowledge can be obtained for your next fishing trips.  And the good thing is the ISE show can be a family event where kids 12 and under have free admission and a hall all to themselves under supervision of adults.  If there's one ISE show you should attend, the San Mateo Expo Center is the place to be.

(Stay tuned for Part 2/3 of this article where we highlight our picks for best of show products!) 










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