The Outdoor Retailer Show

When work is play and play is work.

Damon Bungard  |  12.13.2015

We were on our way into Utah for the Outdoor Retailer ‘ OR’ trade show. OR is where all the outdoor companies come to show their new products to retail buyers and media for the upcoming season. For those in paddlesports, it begins with an on-water demo day on a reservoir near Salt Lake City where new products can be tested on the water. Usually we stay in Park City, but with the Travato this year, we decided to camp before the show at the state park where the on-water day is held.

Photo02Jackson Kayak’s Tandem Kilroy DT debut

The on-water day came and went, with a great sunny day and happy faces testing new kayaks. We debuted the new tandem Kilroy DT fishing kayak among other things. My favorite new product from other manufacturers was the electric fat bike from Polaris as it seemed like a great tool for accessing new fishing and hunting terrain on closed Forest Service roads while staying quiet and not getting too sweaty. The Orion 25 was the hit of the party on the Pau Hana SUP’s, rigged with the Red-Fox Wireless waterproof/wireless Bluetooth speaker.

Photo03Polaris eBike

Photo04Totally cool in more ways the one.  The Orion 25 on a standup paddleboard.

After the on-water demo, the main show goes on for a few more days at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake. It’s certainly the who’s-who gathering of the active outdoor world, with every major and emerging brand represented, dealers, lots of media, athletes, and more new products than you could ever remember. Our Jackson Kayak and Orion booth was busy throughout the show, and Winnebago was there on display as well with the Travato, right next to the Orvis casting pond where you could test the latest and greatest rods.

Photo05Jackson Kayak and Orion Coolers booth

Photo06The Winnebago display

Photo07Ready for practice: the Orvis Casting Pond.

While I was spending my days at the show, Ashley and Tripper were camped up at Park City and she was working remotely from there. The last day of the show is a Saturday, so they came down and Tripper got to be a celebrity. The first thing he does when he sees a kayak is jump on and climb into it’s seat, so that’s exactly what he did in the GoPro booth. He was ready to go fishing.

Photo08Tripper is the top dog at the GoPro booth.

It’s always great to see all the new products at OR, and see old friends in the outdoor industry, but I also find it immensely stressful. People don’t see all the hard work put in by so many people behind the scenes when they look at all the new stuff, but I do, and know all the work yet to be done before the new product is ready to begin shipping to customers. Being a loner by nature, all of the people alone just wear me out. After a week of talking non-stop to new dealers and media, I’m always very ready to escape and fine a place to rest my brain and vocal cords.

Photo09Apres show, it’s time to unwind in the solitude of the Currant Creek Valley.  Look closely to find the Travato.

One place I like to do so is Currant Creek. A few hours out of Salt Lake, high in Uinta Mountains, Currant Creek flows out of Currant Creek Reservoir, and is home to some tight, technical fly fishing for Colorado cutthroats. There’s good kayak fishing in the lake itself, but I really enjoy the technical sight fishing battle of wits in the creek. It’s small, clear water, choked up with beaver dams and tall brush, home to some nice cutthroats that will quickly scatter from hearing you, seeing you, or calling your bluff on that fly you just tossed at them. It makes you work, and think about HOW to fish on each cast. Just the thing my head needs every now and again.

Photo10Currant Creek campsite

There is camping on the reservoir, or some primitive sites right along the creek — my choice for where to leave the Travato and set out on foot after a long show. As expected, trout spotted rising from a distance, disappeared long before I could get flies to them. The ones that gave me chances, only gave me one. This challenge and puzzle is one of the things that I love about fly fishing though, and before long, some pieces were coming together.

Eventually I spotted the wit battlefield I was looking for — a steep embankment on one side of the creek, casting a shadow on the water. The creek turned ninety degrees at the end of the embankment, there was a root ball from a fallen bush there, and debris piled up in the corner of the bend. That meant there should be deeper water there created by the crated left by the uprooted tree roots. Trout should use that depression for cover in a predominantly shallow creek. The floating debris should create a perfect roof for trout to be hiding under, watching food on the surface float by. The shadow should prevent any of them spooking by the shadow that would be cast by my hopper fly. The sharp bend in the river should let me stand back, completely out of view, and basically cast around a corner, and the current should carry my hopper fly right up to that floating debris. A trout should be home there, and be eager to come out to my fly and eat it, like coming to the front door to pick up a pizza from the delivery boy. IT SHOULD ALL WORK! Chances would be limited though, and one snag of a root or any debris would blow any trout of there.

Time to take my shot, and I cast my hopper fly about ten feet in front of the target. A couple small mends of the line for the right drift, and just a theorized, with the fly drifting a couple inches from the debris, all I could see was a large red cheek come out of the water, and my fly disappear. Set the hook, watch the rod bend, and a nice cutt ran out and headed downstream. Into the creek I went, stumbling around debris myself, and eventually fighting the golden cheeked trout to net. Stress relieved. I said my thanks, and released him back to the creek for a chess match another time.

DCIM100GOPROG0120367.Worth the pursuit.  A lovely Currant Creek Cutthroat.

Mission accomplished, I fished my way back to the Travato. Ash had dinner ready, and while we sat and ate, enjoying the last of the sunset through the side door, we could see trout rising in the creek next to us. Next time.

Photo12

Gear Highlight:

Orvis Recon Rods

DCIM100GOPROG0150425.

I’ve long been a fan of Orvis fly rods. Made in Ashley’s home state of Vermont and our home for a long time, Orvis has a long tradition of fly rod expertise. My general rod of choice when I travel is the Recon 8’ 6” 5WT, 4 piece. It casts great using modern tapers, is nice and light, and even the rod tube in Made in USA. The 5WT is a great all-around trout rod for nearly any trout river in the country, capable of accurately casting tiny dries or larger streamers. With their 25 year guarantee, even if you slam the Travato door on it, or your dachshund jumps on it in your kayak (I speak from experience), they’ll take care of you.


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