Tuesday, March 8, 2011

West Michigan’s best fishing boat deals are at the Ultimate Sport Show—Grand Rapids, March 17 to 20

Recession’s end sparks a “whole new ball game”

Area boat dealers will be angling for buyers when they bring scores of new boats, all rigged for fishing fun, to the Ultimate Sport Show—Grand Rapids, March 17 to 20 at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe Ave. NE.

Major boat and motor manufacturers will offer incentives that include cash rebates, extended warranties, special discounts and easy dealer financing.

The recession’s end means the end of distressed boat sales, including bank repos, which flooded the market with too many boats. All models in the Ultimate Sport Show are new, and most are of 2011 vintage.

“It’s a whole new ball game,” said Jeff Helms of Camp & Cruise in Marne. “Because buyers are used to great deals, though, no one is raising prices. In fact, there’s never been a better time to buy a new boat, motor and trailer, all tricked-out for fishing or cruising.”

New boats coming to Grand Rapids include specialty bass and walleye rigs, pontoons, river steelhead packages from the West Coast, offshore trolling models and others. Dealers in the show have details about 2011 factory-rebate programs, many of which expire at the end of March, and other special buying incentives.

Fully-rigged dealer boat packages save buyers $$

The long recession prompted dealers to cut back on factory orders, which meant customers couldn’t always get what they wanted in customized, ready-to-fish packages.

That period is over.

“Today’s best value lies in fully-rigged boats,” Helms added, “because they save customers 10 to 15 percent over buying separately a trailer, trolling motor, sonar electronics and other fishing accessories.”

Many dealers customize factory-delivered packages, which typically include the boat, motor and trailer but not electronics or trolling motors. “We’re the experts,” said Jeff Uetrecht of Lake Drive Marine in Coldwater. “We know how to trick out a boat with the correct components. In that sense we’re like a housing contractor with all the options and answers. Tell us what you want on your boat, and we’ll get it.”

Kevin Matteson of Matteson Marine in Shelbyville agrees. “We know how to correctly rig fishing packages because everyone in our company is an avid angler,” Matteson said.

Randy VanDam, owner of D & R Sports in Kalamazoo, said customers can add custom features to their boat package and include the cost in their financing deal. “It makes sense, VanDam said, “to get what you want now and save the increased labor costs later.”

New lines coming to Grand Rapids

Here are the boats, along with examples of hot deals from each dealer, listed alphabetically:

Camp & Cruise
Helms is bringing mostly small, entry-level fishing rigs. Lines include Sea Arc, Roughneck welded johnboats from Lowe, Wooldridge welded river boats from the West Coast, along with several Ultracraft models and Crest fishing pontoons.

Hot Deal: A 16-foot Ultracraft Model 166 side-console, three-seater with 40 hp Mercury 4-stroke motor, trailer, spare tire, vinyl-EZ clean floor, big-screen fish finder and bow-mounted trolling motor for $13,999.

D & R Sports takes the wraps off Tracker aluminum fishing boats, Triton and Nitro bass boats and Quest pontoons. VanDam said current Tracker boat packages cost as much as $5,000 less than similar offerings last year. “With deals like this, the company is looking to blow the competition out of the water,” VanDam said.

Hot deal: Tracker Pro Guide 175 with Mercury 90 hp engine, trailer, electric trolling motor and fish finder for $14,920.

Double L Bait & Marine in Vicksburg debuts D 3 aluminum boats and pontoons that are well-made and moderately priced. With 25 new craft in inventory, owner Danielle Kinder said delivery wait time is only a week or four to six weeks for special factory orders.

Hot Deal: G3 Suncatcher 188 fishing pontoon with a Yamaha 4-stroke 75 hp engine for $15,300.

Lake Drive Marine in Coldwater unveils new Skeeter bass boats, high-end Cypress Kay pontoons and hand-crafted Phoenix bass boats. Workers at the Tennessee factory concentrate on fit, finish and detail while building only 300 Phoenix craft each year.

Hot Deal: Cypress Kay Model 220 Cozumel luxury pontoon with 150 hp Mercury Verado 4-stroke super-charged engine (top speed is 33 mph) for $30,500 (sticker prize is $35,900), including cover and mooring bumpers.

Matteson Marine is bringing Alumacraft, Lund and Ranger bass and walleye boats to Grand Rapids with Lund and Alumacraft rebates good until the end of March.

Hot Deals: Alumacraft Classic Model 165 CS with 50 hp 4-stroke Yamaha engine, 20-gallon built-in fuel tank and 34-gallon livewell. The $13,695 package includes a $500 rebate, Trailmaster custom trailer with spare tire, 55 lb. MinnKota trolling motor and Hummingbird depth finder. The Model 145 CS with 25 hp Yamaha starts at $8,095.

Sportfisherman’s Center
in Muskegon presents fully-rigged boats by Lund and Alumacraft from 16 to 20 feet. Until the end of March, buyers can get up to $1,200 rebates on certain models along with extended warranties at no added cost.

Hot deals: 16-foot Alumacraft johnboat with 25 hp Mercury 4-stroke and trailer for $8,995 and a 16-ft. Lund with 50 hp Mercury 4-stroke, electric trolling motor, fishing graph and trailer for $14,985. The latter deal includes a $700 rebate, free boat cover and extra seat and pedestal.

Bottom line: You can see these special offerings, and many more, at the Ultimate Sport Show. If a new, ready-to-fish boat package is in your future, the time to pull the trigger on the deal of the decade is March 17 to 20.

Show hours at DeVos Place are Thursday, from 3:00 PM to 9:30 PM; Friday, from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM; Saturday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM; and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $10 for adults and $4 for children 6 to 14. Kids 5 and under get in free.

Tickets may be purchased at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, ticketmaster ticket centers, including D&W stores and select Family Fare locations, charged by phone at 1.800.745.3000 or on-line at ticketmaster.com.

Discount coupons are available at the Grand Rapids Press, and Wendy’s restaurants. For more information, go to www.UltimateSportShow.com or call 800-328-6550.

Family fun abounds at Ultimate Sport Show, March 17 to 20 at DeVos Place

Why is The Ultimate Sport Show one of Michigan’s favorite annual events? Answer: Because for 65 years it has proudly served many of the state’s army of outdoor enthusiasts.

Today, those outdoor lovers include 1.4 million licensed anglers, 750,000 licensed hunters, and 1.4 million wildlife watchers. For them and their families, the Ultimate Sport Show provides wall-to-wall fun, conservation education and special buying opportunities for fishing and hunting boats, fishing tackle and hunting gear.

John Loeks, Sr. launched the show in downtown Grand Rapids at the old Welch Auditorium in 1946. This year’s 66th edition, March 17 to 20 at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe NW (next door to what was Welch Auditorium), remains true to its roots.

There is a Pellet Shooting Range with certified instructors offering lessons and a Trout Pond with frisky rainbows for kids to catch. The nominal donations for those activities, as well as the popular Virtual Fishing Simulator and the Rock Climb, go to non-profit or charitable causes like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

On the weekend, members of the Michigan B.A.S.S. Federation NATION will host a free Casting Kids Contest. The club provides all equipment and will teach boys and girls proper techniques and let them practice before competition begins.

The family-favorite “Ultimate Air Dogs” feature with Milt Wilcox is free every day as are the incredible displays of lifelike animals, birds and fish by the Michigan Taxidermists Association, which holds its annual convention and juried competition at the show.

“Big Buck Night West,” an annual family staple on Michigan Out-of-Doors TV Show, will be filmed on Thursday starting at 7:00 p.m. It, too, is free with admission.

More than 100 scheduled seminars on fishing, hunting, dog training, growing wildlife food plots and other subjects are free with admission. Other in-booth demonstrations draw crowds all day long. Patrons young and old, for example, delight in watching members of the Woodland Woodcarvers whittle away at creations both serious and whimsical.

Terry McBurney from Ada exhibits antique fishing tackle and will appraise artifacts for patrons at no charge. That old wooden fishing lure that Junior found in Grandpa’s tackle box could be priceless. And there’s more snapshots from the past: Dick VanRaalte from Grand Haven displays vintage boating products including a restored wooden boat and several collectible outboard motors.

Bill Yoder’s Live Big Game Show lets youngsters get up close and personal with white-tailed deer, a black bear, a fennec fox baby and a young bobcat.

What kid doesn’t like to nibble on elephant ears, honey-mustard pretzels, roasted almonds or beef jerky? If the youngsters are still hungry, DeVos Place food concessions sell family food and beverages.

More than four acres big, DeVos Place is crammed with hunting gear, fishing tackle and other outdoor products, including camping equipment—all at great bargains. There is bottom-line value on fishing boats, duck hunting boats, pontoons and pleasure boats, along with boat docks, lifts and other accessories

Outfitters Expo provides the public with nearly unlimited family vacation and adventure travel, including hunting and fishing destinations throughout North America and beyond. You can even book a pike fishing trip in Alaska, a family houseboat adventure in Kentucky, or a safari in Africa.

Kids are among those who enjoy collecting the commemorative Dardevle spoons that Eppinger Manufacturing Co. in Dearborn hands out each year on Thursday and Friday to the first 500 show patrons. On Saturday and Sunday, Carlisle Float Company will offer free fish scalers to the first 250 attendees.

And Cran-Hill Ranch family campground in Rodney is bringing its Family Fun Zone, a free, hands-on experience for the kids. That is, if the kids have any energy left!

Show hours are Thursday, March 17 from 3:00 PM to 9:30 PM; Friday, March 18 from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM; Saturday, March 19 from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM; and Sunday, March 20 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $10 for adults and $4 for children 6 to 14. Kids 5 and under get in free.

Tickets may be purchased at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, ticketmaster ticket centers, including D&W stores and select Family Fare locations, charged by phone at 1.800.745.3000 or on-line at ticketmaster.com.

Discount coupons are available at the Grand Rapids Press, and Wendy’s restaurants. For more information, go to www.UltimateSportShow.com or call 800-328-6550.