A trip to Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, Ohio

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter posting about Cabelas, it only made sense to write a little about Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, Ohio.  This store opened in 2008, after I had moved away from Toledo, so I haven’t been to it as much as I have Cabelas, despite it being closer.  I had always had the impression that it was the ‘stepchild’ to Cabelas, the lessor of the giants if you will.  A recent trip changed this opinion and now I view it as equal, if not superior, in some aspects.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA portion of the entrance wall decor

The lobby of Bass Pro is nothing short of amazing.  It has a few lounge chairs and couches that are surrounded by numerous displays with vintage fishing tackle, as well as, photos and mounts.  You feel like you have stepped back in time and somehow stumbled upon something no one has seen in years.  This is quite a feat considering you are in the entrance of a giant retailor.  While I was looking at the antique photos connecting to my ‘brotherhood of anglers’ of years past, the only thing that snapped me out of it was the friendly employee greeting me and asking if I needed help finding anything.  I hope this wasn’t a disguised effort to keep me from loitering in the lobby any longer, and if it was, they did a great job convincing me they just wanted to help.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA nice sized aquarium with good fish diversity

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA Longnose Gar was one of the many species I didn’t expect to see

While not nearly as large or a singular attraction to make the trip like at Cabelas, the aquarium at Bass Pro did have some features that were notable.  I like how it is set into a scene, looking like it was a pool that naturally formed at the base of a rocky ledge.  What I liked the best though, was the diversity of the fish species that were represented.  One might think Bass Pro, would be focused largely on bass.  What I didn’t realize, is just how much they embrace all the species.  This was evident not only by the aquarium that had Longnose Gar, Freshwater Drum, Channel Catfish, Common Carp and buffalo, but also by, numerous photos around the store that highlighted different species.  I was told by a staff member that some of the mural photos on the walls were of the owner and his family… and it was notable that these sometimes included ‘rough fish’.  I was impressed.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA bright, clean and well organized Fishing Department

The store is well organized and the majority of the staff are eager to help you.  I have found a few of the people quick to talk about the local fishing scene or share a story or two.  I had a few not so easy to find items on my shopping list this visit, and it was easy to find everything I was looking for.  A few items, such as a package of 1/64th oz. hair jigs, were priced well below what I was expecting to pay.

I do want to caution about an area that is set designated for signing up for a raffle for a free fishing vacation.  It always is portrayed as a special event, but every visit it has been going on.  I had made the mistake of filling out the card on my first visit, and my cell phone received numerous calls trying to sell me a fishing vacation packages for well over a year.  This continued to happen for quite awhile after my request to be taken off the list and not to be called.  Read the fine print, if you fill out a card.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA quote that I liked on one of the murals

Overall, my opinion of Bass Pro was raised after this recent visit where I was looking to scrutinize or compare against Cabelas.  I love the décor and how the designers gave it a quaint fishing cabin feel, yet it is a massive store.  I dispelled some myths in my head that Bass Pro was uniquely focused on bass.  While there was everything you could possibly want for bass fishing, it was evident by the diverse mounts, pictures and murals, and the items the store chooses to stock… that they care about and can equip the most savvy of multi species anglers or people that focus on something other than bass.

A trip to Cabelas in Dundee, Michigan

01182014CabelasFrontI’ve managed to get to Cabelas in Dundee a dozen or so times, and thought I would do a mini overview of my experiences.  While I will include some of my own photos, this link HERE will take you to the official store website.  I strongly advise to monitor “view upcoming store events” if planning a visit.

Arriving at the store, in the lobby there is a bragging board for the employees.  A nice collage of various staff with their exploits both hunting and fishing.  I actually like this a lot.  It makes me feel as though the staff actually has some interest and/or expertise in the outdoors, not simply people who landed a job in retail.  I can’t help but think of a recent experience I had in an un-named store with a big fishing section.  I hear a guy ask one of the employees stocking a shelf say, “I wanted to get started in Steelhead fishing, can you help me?”.  The employee says, “I don’t really fish but I can show you where the books are on it”.  Needless to say, this doesn’t happen with the staff at Cabelas.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe board with an example shown for detail

Once through the lobby, you immediately see the sheer size and scope of a 225,000 square foot store.  An indoor ‘mountain’ of various wildlife mounts is the center-piece of the store and is quite impressive.  The walls are labeled with big signs indicating the department, which does make navigating rather easy despite the size.  Small and large displays of mounts pepper the store and it does give the impression the company did not demand every square foot have products to sell.  In my opinion, it does demonstrate they wanted to provide an ‘outdoor experience’ while shopping.

The two things I enjoy the most about the store is the indoor trout stream and the aquarium.  The trout in the stream are enormous and it is neat to be so close to them.  I’m positive every angler who visits dreams of winning a promotion to get to fish for them.  Most of the fish are Rainbows (possibly Steelhead) with a few Browns as well.  All of the fish are big and many times I have seen fish pushing 10 pounds or more in the stream.  If you get tired from shopping, this is the place to sit and rest.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe indoor trout stream

As for the aquarium, it rivals or is superior to any section that a zoo might have devoted to freshwater fish.  What I love the most is that it has the fish that are native to the Great Lakes region.  It isn’t exotic species, it’s the species that anglers encounter (or wish to encounter) right here in the mid west.  The fish vary as to what is being displayed, but usually you will find Large and Smallmouth Bass, White Bass, Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Crappie, Freshwater Drum, Northern Pike, Channel and Flathead Catfish.  I have also seen Paddlefish and Longnose Gar on a few visits.  Additionally, there are usually some turtles, both painted and soft-shell.  It is always interesting to watch the fish in their natural habitat and how the species interact with each other.  Also, I recommend checking for feeding times.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJust about every time I have visited, I see something new or something interesting is happening.  Most recently, my visit included getting to watch a scuba diver cleaning the aquarium glass.  What made this particularly fun to watch was the interaction between the diver and a soft shell turtle.  All of the species in the tank either stayed clear and were frightened by the diver or passed around him paying no interest.  The soft shell turtle, however, took issue with him and was relentless in trying to bite him.  It was hilarious watching the diver use his scrub brush like a matador’s flag against the fiercest bull.  The diver would spin the turtle around and shove it away, only to have it turn around and come back at him.  I watched this for at least 5 solid minutes and still wonder who finally gave in to who.  It later occurred to me that I should have captured some video of the exchange, but I did take photos.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESwait…wait…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESATTACK!

Moving on from the stream and aquarium, let me get the shopping itself.  As one might expect in a store of this size, you can find just about everything imaginable.  This would hold true for all of the various departments in the store, but being that this is a fishing blog and that is my greatest interest – I will keep the discussion related to fishing.  The section for fishing contains everything one would need for any type of fishing interest.  This would include boaters, waders, shore fishing and everything from fly to ice fishing.  The selection is incredible and it’s the only store I know of that I could look at a lure manufacturer’s catalog and realistically have a shot of finding the exact lure routinely.  Staff are abundant and quick to ask if you need help, will nearly always walk you right to the area you need.  They ask their peers if they can’t find what you are looking for and seem genuine in their desire to help you.  Surprisingly, I haven’t traded fishing stories with employees which begs the question, Is it possible to ever get tired of talking about fishing?  Maybe for those that work here full time and with the volume of visitors, it actually can happen.  What a good problem to have, too much fishing talk.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA small section of the fishing department

Before I get accused of sounding like a Cabela’s cheerleader or someone just looking for some perks or free swag, I do have a few areas that I am critical of.  The first one is pricing.  If you are specifically trying to find something for the cheapest you can find it, Cabela’s is not the place to look first.  Maintaining streams, an aquarium, hiring staff with some expertise and the sheer volume of staff, powering a store of this size, etc etc… all comes at a cost.  There are sales, there is a Bargain Cave, but overall their pricing is full retail most often.  Because I enjoy all the things listed, I am willing to pay a little for it.  I tend to look at it as I didn’t have to pay admission, so I can handle a bit more in the pricing.  The only other thing that is a bit of a downfall is the tenacious way everyone is selling the Cabela’s credit card.  On average, I’m asked 3-4 times by different associates if I am interested in it.

Overall, I always enjoy my visits and always end up buying something(s) that I may or may not have needed.  I encourage everyone to check out the official link at the top of the post as I have hardly scratched the surface of everything the store offers or has going on.