Stages made of water at Ultimate Fishing Show in Novi

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Novi — A trade show is a trade show is a trade show, but how many have stages made of water?

The Ultimate Fishing Show has two: a 5,000-gallon fish tank and a 92-foot-long swimming pool.

Floating, if not walking, on those waters Saturday were some of the best fishermen in the world telling the crowd how they could be more like them. Their sermons were delivered from boats.

The four-day event, held at Suburban Collection Showplace, is billed as the largest pure fishing show in the country.

It boasted seven acres of fishing boats, fishing tackle, fishing gear, fishing vacations and fishing seminars.

Alex Sharkey didn’t care about any of it. He just wanted to catch a fish.

The 6-year-old was at yet another liquid exhibition – a 50-foot swimming pool filled with trout. Alex was one of many small anglers with small poles trying to hook a big fish.

“You gotta put your stuff on it,” said mom Connie, referring to bait.

Collin Dickey, left, and his son Grayson Dickey try to catch the big one at the trout pond with family friend Brett Davies at The Ultimate Fishing Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Saturday, January 8, 2022.

She tried to help by wriggling the pole but, like everyone else, they came up empty. After their time ran out, Alex wanted to try again but that would have meant getting back on a long line.

The family settled for a photo of a forlorn Alex holding his fishless pole.

“It was OK, I guess,” said the fledgling fisherman.

The mood was brighter at a seminar held in front of the 5,000-gallon fish tank whose clear sides allowed the audience to see the fish.

Large crowds surround Deep-V and pontoon boats at the Grand Pointe Marina display at The Ultimate Fishing Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Saturday, January 8, 2022.

Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, a radio show in a state whose name can’t be mentioned, had the crowd of 100 laughing as he described the different ways people could fish.

But first he warned youngsters not to be fiddling with their cellphones unless it was to take his picture. If they violated the rule, their phones were going into the tank.

Armitage, a freelance outdoors writerines, described a trip to Puerto Rico where a group of youngsters were catching fish with soda bottles and string.

They used the bottles both to store bait and as a reel, pulling a fish toward them by repeatedly wrapping the string around the bottle.

“You don’t need the latest fishing pole and the latest boat,” he said.

He ended the seminar by taking a youth with him on the boat atop the tank to catch some fish.

As for the rest of the seven acres, the booths took you through every step of becoming a Fisher King.

There was even a demonstration area for fish cleaning, held by Metro West Steelheaders, a fishing club in Livonia. Anyone catching a fish at the show was welcome to bring their prize there.

Nearby Troy Green allowed his imagination to run wild as he walked amid hundreds of boats from dozens of manufacturers.

Alas, the Clarkston resident said he would have to live on a boat if he bought one. It would be the only way he could afford it.

“Boat or house, one or the other. I can’t have both,” he said.

Anyone who still wants to go to the fishing show doesn’t have to give up their home or boat. It’s $12 for adults and $5 for children 6-14. It’s open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

313) 223-4186

Twitter: @prima_donnelly