END OF OPEN WATER - BEGINNING OF ICE SEASON PREP FOR KNOXVILLE FISHING SHOW, ADVENTURES OF THE JAMES GANG CALIPER
LIVE BAIT VENDING FOR ICE FISHING IS BACK IN BLOOMER WI
24/7 Live bait vending on Hwys 64/40 in Bloomer WI
ICE FISHING HAS BEGAN IN NW WISCONSIN!! HERE IS A QUICK AERIAL VIEW OF LAKE MENOMIN AS ANGLERS FIND LIMITS OF PANFISH ON EARLY ICE:
PREPPING FOR THE EAST TN FISHING SHOW!!!
We have finally reached the exciting moment of reality - IT'S TIME TO GET TO WORK!! Our booth fees and contract have been taken care of, our new table runner has arrived, lure parts are arriving, and our shopping bags and accessories for the show are being made this week. Alex and I started hand-crafting our first lures for the big event tonight. Its been about 5 years in absence from exhibiting in shows, and the Knoxville event is something we dreamed of showing at many years ago. We are excited and determined to hand-craft enough Lovertail 2's, Dunkin Frogs, and Bee Whackers in enough colors to impress the local bass anglers in Tennessee. We also plan on bringing a small variety of some of our non-wire baits that can really produce a lot of fishing success, including the Bass Jerker, Baby Squid Bait, Katana Blade, and our weedless swinging jig called the Nest Invader. We started with a batch of these jigs, as we wait for the rest of the components to ship in for the wire baits that are coming to the show. The show will take place in the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Hwy the last week of Jan 2024. This will be our longest event, with 4 days and longer hours than previous shows. Attendance is claimed to be one of the biggest in SE United States, and I personally know that area is crazy about bass fishing! We are super excited and are looking forward to hand-crafting lures, improving our booth appearance, traveling through some new cities, documenting our trip with camera and drone videos, and most importantly interacting with passionate anglers in the event. Here's a quick teaser of what our first night of prepwork resulted in:
There will be more much information to come, and we will delay our personal ice fishing season until most of the lure-crafting for this huge event is complete. If you are interested in the show, here's the map to the event for the last week in Jan 2024:
A SENTIMENTAL PIECE OF THE JAMES GANG COMES HOME!
JESSE & PAUL GEHIN WITH THE REMAINS OF OUR CALIPER DISPLAY FROM 2018
During our trade shows, our customers were often fascinated by a unique wooden caliper display that is found on our table. This caliper was crafted by CEO Alex Piontek's grandfather Bob Simmons, and his great-uncle Dale Simmons. The caliper can be used to measure fish, as its sliding design can adjust to take a proper measurement of the trophy when the situation arises. Of course this piece of art is too nice to actually use on a slimy fish, especially those STINKY pike! It's a special piece of our adventures that is something to chuckle about and start conversations about when a customer is caught off-guard by its presence.
In January of 2018, we were leaving the Wisconsin Fishing Expo in Madison Wisconsin in the Alliant Center. We load dup all of our booth belongings and headed into the dark to load our vehicle up to head home. When we arrived at home, we brought in all of our belongings, but couldn't find the caliper anywhere. The only scenario we could come up with was that our driver placed the caliper on the roof of his SUV and left it there, allowing it to fly off of the interstate at the first interchange.
Obviously this missing piece greatly saddened us as we worked an expo the following year without it. During the off-season, it has a special display location on our wall of our lure shop to acknowledge it under Alex's fish mounts and lure displays. Understandably, the two relatives that hand-crafted this art were very sad about its loss as well.
As COVID-19 arrived, the expo scene was shut down. Deteriorating health issues that I was experiencing due to a stroke and neurological Lyme disease prevented us from considering doing any expos for 4 years. Earlier this year, we made the decision to get back into the expo game and go BIG, going to the biggest show we wanted to exhibit - KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. Shortly after we verbally agreed with each other that its time to get back into it, I received a random message in social media from a stranger. The person was named Jackie Gehin and was looking for the owner of James Gang Fishing Company.
Jackie began telling me a story about how her husband Paul was a highway worker in Dane County, WI, and came across a unique item on the side of the free-way in 2018. They were unsure of what it was, as the sliding arm was missing and there was some major scuff damage to the paint. She placed it in their house for years to protect it. Out of the blue in early 2023, she decided to pull out the relic and do some research. I told her that there was a piece of our display that was missing in that area that we absolutely thought flew off into the ditch as we merged onto the interstate near the Alliant Center. Jackie immediately became excited, and made plans within a few days to meet up in Wausau, WI to return the caliper to us!
THE CALIPER IS REPAIRED, RESTORED, & READY FOR KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE!
(PICTURED - DALE SIMMONS, JAMES GANG CEO ALEX PIONTEK, BOB SIMMONS)
When I returned home with the damaged caliper, Alex's grandfather was quite surprised. He thought that the damage was able to be repaired, and that he was able to replace the sliding arm with a new piece that he could craft. After a few months of being out of our hands, we were surprised with a visit from Dale at Alex's grandfather's house, with a completely show-ready caliper freshly painted with some awesome updates. Dale decided to paint on all the lures that Alex covered in his TV interview on the OUTDOOR SHOWCASE, as well as a painting of Alex's giant 7 lb peacock bass that he caught the previous year with Monster Mike Fishing in Miami, Florida. THANK YOU DALE & BOB FOR THE AWESOME REPAIR & RESTORATION OF THE CALIPER!
GOOD LUCK ICE FISHING!!!! SEE YOU OUT THERE SOON!!
Jesse James is an avid fisherman that loves smallmouth bass fishing, loves spending time with his family, with other family-orientated people, and loves seeing children fish. A huge fan of BASSMASTER Elite Mike Iaconelli, like Mike, he is known to be a little strange, and obnoxious, but only to have fun and make people laugh.