Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show

© By Albert A Rasch

I woke up late.

It’s the daylight savings thing, I hurt my back moving the chicken coop, and overall I felt like crud. (Still do.) So somehow I overslept this Sunday morning, and it was the Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show and now we were all late.

I hurriedly woke the dead up. Blake sleeps in a sepulcher like stupor, which not even a fire alarm pierces. As a matter of fact, the emergency action plan calls for me to get Blake, while Mom gets The Bear. Since this was definitely an emergency, I got a wet paper towel and slapped it on Bubby’s face, while pulling his blankets off. To make a long story short, I managed to get him in the bathroom with only one herniated disc.

About an hour later we were on the road heading for the expo!

I haven’t been to a good expo in quite a while, so when we pulled up I was happy to see the parking lot was full of cars and a bunch of nice boats were lined up at the entry. Inside we found several hundred tables filled with all sorts of inshore and offshore fishing gear, electronics, boating accessories, and apparel. There where many seminars on different facets of fishing, many taught by local guides. We learned how to rig for groupers and Capt. Larry Finch taught us where and how to fish the surf for pompanos. There was a fish filleting display and a knot tying class where we bought a rigging book. Florida fishing is very tide dependant so we attended that class too.

We checked out all the boats, from the Glades Runners which were long narrow beamed runabouts, to large multi-engine offshore kingfish hunters with conning towers and radar. There were even a couple of fiberglass pangas in the mix.

Blake really liked a beautiful 24 foot flats boat by NauticStar Boats, the 2400 NauticBay. Not only is it a flats type boat, but it is designed to run blue water too. I wouldn’t try rough seas with it mind you, but it looks very capable for the occasional offshore foray on calm days. Capt. Al Lewis, (The Boat House at Boater’s World, 4809 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte Florida, Tel: 941*235*2628), was willing to throw in a T-Top and the trailer if I would take it home with me. It was all I could do to drag the Mrs. and the two lug nuts away before I was parted from my hard earned money! If you are in the market for a great quality American Made fishing machine that is reasonably priced, see or call Capt. Al. No hard sell, no pressure, just the facts and the guidance of an experience fisherman. If it makes any difference, Cristal and I have decided to purchase one as soon as finances allow. As Cristal said, “It’s an investment in Blake’s education.”

One manufacturer in particular deserves accolades for the way they handle their business: Calusa Trading Company (PO Box 61902 Ft. Myers Florida, 33906 Tel: 1*888*5 CALUSA.) Their table had several examples of their cast nets, from small mesh baitfish nets, to large nets designed to catch eating size fish. Here is another quality Handmade American product. For those of you unfamiliar with a cast net, it is a large circular affair that is thrown by hand. It is non-destructive to underwater habitats, and at one time was what fishermen used to supply mullet for the market. That of course was before commercial fishermen started using seine nets and gill nets to catch everything in the water.

Trevor and Jeff were the two young men teaching the “Zen and the Art of Cast Netting” class. After a quick explanation on centripetal force and the theory of cast nets, they invited us to learn “The Art of the Net.” Blake and Trevor had no trouble. A couple of tries, and Blake’s net spread the full 16 feet and landed, nice and round, on the carpeted throwing area.

Jeff really tried hard to get me to coordinate all the actions properly, but I just had a bit of trouble remembering which sequence of events I was to follow. A couple of Mae Wests, figure eights, and an indecipherable net hieroglyph later, Jeff patiently explained, “You must become one with the net.” To which Trevor added “Feel the force.” I’m no Obi Wan, but after a half dozen more throws I was getting the hang of it and remembering to release the lead line I was holding in my teeth. Good thing I don’t wear dentures. Those two guys were the paragons of patience, and before long I was throwing almost as well as Blake. I was feeling pretty sore in the shoulders by then and was more than happy to hand the nets over when I was done.

Both Jeff and Trevor were fantastic, well mannered, and good natured young men. I am certain that their parents are very proud of them. My family and I certainly enjoyed their company and tutelage, and look forward to meeting them again at the next show.

Overall I was very pleased by the Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show. The show itself was reasonably priced at $8.00 per person, the venue was great, and even the snack bar was well supplied and fairly reasonable. All of the vendors but one, (I don’t want to discuss that one yet until I have done more research.) were very nice, very helpful, and lots of fun. All of the patrons seemed to be having a great time, with all of the seminars and classes filled to capacity. I’ll be looking for the next one in Tampa, when it comes around!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues…

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