ST. CHARLES – Michael Vlasich has experienced some of his most memorable fishing excursions in Canada.
It was at Red Lake in Ontario where he caught a 42-inch, 24-pound great northern pike – a fish big enough to brag about for years.
It's been a while since he last visited, though. Vlasich of Munster, Ind., was at the All-Canada Show at Pheasant Run in St. Charles on Saturday looking for a fishing outfitter to help coordinate another trip to Canada.
"I used to go [to Canada] a long time ago. I'm rekindling an old flame, so to speak," he said. "It's light there for 17 hours so you can fish all day."
Featuring more than 120 vendors, the All-Canada Show annually draws thousands of people who are interested in coordinating hunting and fishing trips all over Canada. Some vendors offered comfortable resort atmospheres, while others offered a more remote, rugged experience.
Vlasich said he enjoys fishing in Canada, in particular, because it gets him outdoors enjoying nature. He said it's not uncommon to see moose, bears and eagles there.
Cabela's had several displays of taxidermied wildlife, including two moose with locked antlers, fish and deer.
The Coffee family of Glendale Heights checked out some mounted fish displays Saturday when they stopped by the show to start planning a family vacation. Jamie Coffee said he has been to the show a handful of times to plan trips to Canada, but his wife, Jennifer, and their son, Benjamin, 7, have never been there. Jamie Coffee said he looked forward to bringing his family along on a trip, possibly to Ontario.
"I fish just about everywhere," he said. "There's no experience like fishing in Canada."
Show vendor Debbie Alexander, manager for Thunderhook Fly-Ins, said some of her clients have caught as many as 100 walleye each while fishing in the heart of northwestern Ontario.
"There's no road access. It's really remote and beautiful," she said. "You're going to catch a nice sized fish."
That's similar to the experiences Terry Kelly of Oak Forest has had when he's traveled to Canada to fish. He said one of his most memorable trips was a recent one with his nephews who had never been fishing in Canada.
"There's some amazing fish," he said. "Last time I was there, we caught 100 walleye in one day and went through 12 dozen minnows."
Kelly said his new favorite spot to fish in Canada is Wawang Lake in Graham, Ontario. He said he hopes his son, Conor, 5, gets to tag along on his next trip.
Alexander said most people who are looking to travel to Canada are seeking remote areas where few, if any, other people fish. But she said there are other packages available that include canoeing and kayaking.
She said the All-Canada Show, which tours five states, is especially popular in St. Charles.
"It's one of the most popular shows we do and one of the most highly-attended," she said of the St. Charles location. "It's a really good show with a lot of guests. I love this show."