For professional bass fisherman Mike DelVisco of Dandridge, Tenn., he’s made a living catching fish and talking about it. “I figured it out right out of high school,” said the 34-year bass pro. “I grew up in Massachusetts, before the days of video games and computers. I fished nearly every day because of all the ponds we had around us. My father and grandfather taught me early.”
“It was actually at a sport show in the winter that I realized the potential that fishing had for making a living. I used to hang around the casting pool, throwing a lure into a cup. It eventually led me to my first sponsor.”
Sport fishing has come a long way since then and it’s been DelVisco’s mission to educate kids – and parents – on fish and fishing.
Delvisco is one of the featured seminar speakers at the Western New York Sport and Travel Expo, scheduled for the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg March 8-11.
Before the trade show even takes place, he will be arriving earlier in the week to conduct appearances at area Texas Roadhouse restaurants in Tonawanda on March 5 and Cheektowaga on March 6. DelVisco is using a different kind of outreach through one of his sponsors in an effort to attract kids into fishing. Texas Roadhouse will be sponsoring a coloring contest for kids ages 6 to 12 years of age. You don’t have to wait for Expo week to pick up the uncolored pictures. Just make sure you have them colored and turned in by the designated promotional day.
DelVisco will pick four winners from each location, with each lucky youngster earning a special prize package that includes a rigged cane pole, four-packet of tickets to the Sport and Travel Expo and entry into a special kids fishing derby on March 10 in the Expo trout pond at 9:30 a.m. Winner of that 15-minute competition – whoever catches the most fish – will earn a Pirate Adventure package in Erie, Pa,. with an overnight stay and tickets to Splash Lagoon.
In addition to the coloring contest at each Texas Roadhouse location, guests can register for another fishing prize package valued at over $200 that will be drawn during his special appearances 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 5 and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 6. DelVisco will be sharing fishing tips, answering questions and signing autographs along the way, generating excitement for fishing and the upcoming Expo.
“This is the first year for this promotion here and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
During the actual Expo, DelVisco will be focusing on two seminars. One is “Understanding Sonar,” an in-depth lesson he will give six times during the four days. On the weekend, though, he will also be giving a “Getting Your Kids into Fishing” seminar that is focused on both the kids and the adults.
“Parents need to know what the process is to get their kids started in the right direction, from choosing the right gear to selecting the perfect fishing location.”
“When I try to educate people, both kids and adults, I try to teach more than just fishing,” said DelVisco, who will be competing in the Bassmasters Open Tournaments this year. “I try to give them the basic biology of the fish and why they do what they do. It’s a complete package. Teach them something and let them learn something on their own.”
Saturday’s seminar is at 12:30 p.m. and Sunday’s session is at 11 a.m.
As a person who’s grown up with the fishing industry, he’s seen a lot of changes the last three-plus decades and he’s encouraged by what he sees.
“Many kids don’t know the history of fishing and where it’s come through the years. I try to tell that story. Kids are getting involved and interested in high school and even junior high with fishing teams. There are college scholarships available now for fishing, allowing a person to further their education by being a good fisherman. This is an exciting time and I’m glad I can be a part of it.”
Saturday morning of the Expo, there will be a special youth promotion that will give a rigged cane pole and a coupon for a free kid’s meal to Texas Roadhouse for the first 100 kids through the doors at the Agri-Center in Hamburg. The doors open at 10 a.m.
“Fishing is something that brings the families together. It’s just as important to educate the parents, otherwise those kids might not have an opportunity to get hooked,” he said.
The Expo has other educational opportunities as well. Jim Steel with Innovative Outdoors and Jim Skoczylas with Ultimate Outdoors will be trading seminars on walleye fishing on Lake Erie, Capt. Sam Schrecengost, Brad Brodnicki and Capt. Joe Fonzi will all be giving talks on a variety of topics from the Cabela’s Bass Tank. Don’t forget about the trout pond mentioned earlier, sponsored by Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY – a great activity for the kids.
In the hunting arena, Bob Hart, Ken Hammel, Stan Potts and Scott Richardson will all be giving talks on topics from whitetail deer and turkey to long-range shooting tips. The guys from Bone Cold TV and Antler Ice will also be on hand to share their knowledge on hunting.
Jim Beverly will be back giving retriever training and tips. Bwana Jim returns with another action-packed Wildlife Show as yet another feature. Admission is $10 for adults. Kids 10 and under are free. Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Check out www.eriepromotions.com/wny-sport-show/ for further details. Make sure you bring the kids.