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West Palm Beach Hosts Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show
Fishing fun for the whole family Sept. 15 - 16, 2007

Posted Monday, September 3, 2007

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The Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show

When: Sat. and Sun., Sept. 15-16
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat., 10. a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun.

Where: South Florida Fairgrounds
9067 Southern Blvd.
6 miles west of I-95

Admission: $8 adults, children 12 and under with parent free. Look for $3 off coupon in Florida Sportsman Magazine and a $2 off coupon at the web site

Fishing and Boat Show has something for everyone--seminars, demonstrations, fishing boats and a huge indoor tackle sale.

Florida Sportsman Magazine will host their thirteenth annual Fishing Show and Boat Show on Sept. 15-16 and the popular magazine promises that the Show will be bigger and better than previous years, with ongoing seminars, kids’ events, hands-on instruction and demonstrations. The most popular part of the event--a huge indoor tackle sale--will fill the 60,000 square-foot Expo Hall, with fishing boats and accessories added to the mix.

One of the centerpiece attractions of the Show is the Riggin’ it Right Academy, Offshore and Inshore” says Show Director Robin Smillie. “Our magazine has a sharp focus on instruction and how-to, so this classroom setting is our way of bringing the pages of Sportsman to life.”

Show attendees sit at “learning stations” with supplies at hand, including wire, mono, pliers, and fresh bait like ballyhoo, sardines, and shrimp. Sportsman staff give personal hands-on instruction at rigging everything from a swimming mullet to a popping cork rig.

New to Riggin it Right is a filet demonstration where several lucky attendees who get their ticket drawn will take home a bag of flounder, grouper and snapper filets.

“If you want to learn from the pros and get your hands wet with the real thing,” adds Smillie, “just take a seat--it’s all included in one admission price. The most popular topics are the wired swimming ballyhoo rig tied by tournament pros in the Offshore Academy and how to rig, cast and retrieve all the different types of lures in the Inshore Academy.”

The Show also features an offshore, inshore and kayak fishing seminar stage, a hands-on “castnet pit,” a knot-tying table, and flycasting pond complete with expert casting instructors. Kids events include an indoor spincast pond where volunteer parents teach casting techniques and all participants win a Zebco tackle box, a virtual reality bass fishing display, sportfish face painting by paraplegic artist Tony Ryals, and Fish Identifier Game where kids are challenged to match pictures of fish placed throughout the Expo Hall.

The list of exhibitors reads like a Who’s Who in Florida Fishing with over 100 booths of fishing tackle and boats, state agencies, conservation groups and seminar speakers. Most of the exhibitors are set up to sell tackle, fishing gear, clothing, charters and guides, fishing boats and accessories, so deals and bargains are the order of the day. In one of the many promotions, anyone who purchases fishing reels at the show can take their new reels to the Berkley Trilene booth and have it spooled with line for free.

Along with the exhibitors selling tackle and fishing-related merchandise and 15,000 square feet of tricked-out fishing boats, the Show focuses on instruction and information for the novice as well as the accomplished angler. "All of our seminar speakers have a wealth of angling knowledge,” says Smillie. “We want to make that information available to the average weekend fishermen and their families."

Hard-core fishing information will be offered by a dozen of the area’s top fishing pros on subjects that range from fishing for trout with artificials to bottom fishing for snapper and grouper. Realistic fishing conditions will be simulated as seminar speakers share their knowledge from the decks of working fishing boats. The seminar stages are real fishing boats, fully outfitted for inshore and offshore fishing applications. The inshore stage is a Sterling flats boat floating in a 10,000-gallon portable pond--the seminar speaker stands on the front deck and gives a lesson by casting lures to the edge of a stand of mangroves. The offshore stage is a 26-foot offshore boat loaded with downriggers, marine electronics, bait wells and tackle. Seminar speakers stand in the cockpit of the boat and demonstrate the proper use of these fishing devices. The audience will experience the virtual reality of fishing and enjoy a sense of being there on the boat with each seminar speaker, learning first hand what makes these pros so successful.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will display the Florida Sportsman Grand Slam Tank, a 500-gallon mobile aquarium that houses a live redfish, sea trout, and snook. The redfish and snook were hatched and reared at the Port Manatee hatchery near Tampa, but the trout was captured from the wild. Florida Sportsman Senior Editor Vic Dunaway coined the phrase “Grand Slam” during his early years with the magazine and it is now used worldwide to describe catching three local gamefish in the same day. Also in the FF&WCC booth will be representatives of the Wildlife Division and the Florida Marine Enforcement Division.

For those who want to learn how to net their own bait, Buster McKenzie of Calusa nets, a Ft. Myers based castnet manufacturer, will give hands-on instruction in throwing a castnet at the 600-sq.-ft. castnet pit. "We teach two methods--the standard double load is one, but we also teach our own invention called the Dry Load. It’s the easiest to learn, and as the name implies, you won’t get wet. Throwing a perfect circle is all in the load."

At the Florida Sportsman booth, Florida Sportsman staff writers and editors will be on hand to greet the public and talk a little fishing. “We’re never short of story ideas in southeast Florida, ” says Editor Jeff Weakley. “There are endless fishing opportunities there and we’re looking forward to meeting our readers and hearing their fishing stories.” Senior Editor Vic Dunaway will be in the booth with a live cooking demonstration and handing out samples of fish chowder made from a recipe in his new book, The Anglers Cookbook. Also in the booth will be Florida Sportsman Live radio show host Capt. Eden White.

At the Zebco Kids’ Take Me Fishing Spincast Pond, youngsters will get instruction on casting technique and compete in a can’t-lose contest to win lures and rod-and-reel combos. Every child who enters will receive a Zebco Tackle Pack and those who successfully land their lure in a floating target will win a Zebco 12-pound-class spin outfit. “Watching them learn to cast is as much fun for me as fishing,” said Tom Putnam of Half Hitch Tackle. “Last year some neighboring exhibitors got bonked on the head a few times with rubber lures, but over 300 kids walked away with a prize--30 of those prizes were rod-reel combos.”

“Anyone who enjoys fishing will have something to see,” promises Smillie. “It’s a Family Fishing Festival, so bring the kids and plan on spending the entire day surrounded by fishing events and fishing stuff.”


Inshore Stage:

11 a.m., Wadefishing the Flats Capt. Mark Nichols, inventor and manufacturer of D. O. A. lures, has tested his lures in shallow water all over the country and the techniques he developed in the Indian River of Florida work just as well in Texas bays and Louisiana coastal islands. “Keeping a low profile is essential in skinny water,” explains Nichols, “and I can’t do that from the bow of a boat. I’ll get out and go down on my knees on a submerged sandbar when I see a fish, which might put the water around my chest.” Nichols will demonstrate his version of lure retrieval while he wades in the Inshore Stage, a 10,000-gallon pond, and casts his lures to a virtual reality snook and redfish that are swimming in the roots of artificial mangrove plants. Mark‘s best advice for lure retrieval in shallow water? “If you think you’re retrieving it too slow, then what you need to do is slow it down some more!”

Noon, Inshore Grand Slam: Snook, Trout and Redfish Capt. Blair Wiggins, a Cocoa Beach native and professional charter captain, is host of Fox Sports Network’s Addictive Fishing. Known as the Mogan Man to his many fans, he won the 2006 FLW Redfish series and a $100,000 payout by traveling the pro circuit 300 days a year. But Wiggins recently gave up professional tournament fishing to become the Director of the IMG Sports Academy Professional Fishing School in Bradenton because, “I love to teach fishing almost as much as I love to go fishing--now I have the best of both worlds.“ As a redfish pro Wiggins frequently had to cull through trout and snook to get to the winning redfish. “I catch a slam by accident almost every time I go fishing for redfish in south Florida,” says Wiggins. “All three species frequent many of the same feeding stations so I thought my seminar should be on how to purposely go after the three most popular inshore fish. Each tide flow--and even a still high or low--presents opportunities to catch quality fish if you know where these feeding stations are. My best advice is to work them all--grass flats, oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, cuts, channels and points.” Topics will also include capturing and keeping alive natural baits, tackle selection and end with a session on Wiggins’ top three lures for each species.

1 p.m., Sportsman’s Best--Redfish Capt. Terry Lacoss is a Florida Sportsman Department Editor, author of numerous feature articles and Sportsman’s Seminars columns, and author of the soon-to-be-released book, Sportsman‘s Best--Redfish. Lacoss runs the charter fleet out of Amelia Island Plantation and frequently guides charters into the picturesque backwaters of the Amelia and St. Mary’s rivers near the Georgia border. He also fishes lots of redfish tournaments and won the very first ESPN redfish cup in 2002 and the Jacksonville IFA Cabella’s Redfish Tournament in 2003. Lacoss will give advice on how to work the tides to follow the schools of redfish while they move from the deep channels at low tide, to the potholes at incoming tide, to oyster bars, and then eventually up into the tidal creeks at high tide. “Here on the southeast coast, just like the northeast coast where I fish a lot, you have to follow the fish with the tides,” advises Lacoss. “This is true for species other than redfish, too. I see too many fishermen park in one spot for way too long. These fish don’t move far but the key is to move with them as they feed on shrimp, mullet, and crabs that are around dock pilings way up in residential creeks and canals at high tide.” Topics will also include Lacoss’ top ten artificial baits, which lucky attendees will receive as he tosses them to the crowd.

2 p.m., Snook Fishing With Artificials Dave Justice is a Product Innovation Associate and Pro Staff Manager for Berkley and is known throughout Florida as one of the top snook catchers of all time. Dave published a video on monster snook fishing and has made numerous appearances on TV shows, including Bill Dance Outdoors, Rick Murphy’s Outdoor Adventures and Shaw Grigsby’s One More Cast. Dave has caught more than 400 snook over 30 pounds--his biggest was a 42-pound behemoth caught on a live “tuna mullet.” “For September in the West Palm area, I have two plans for catching snook,” says Dave. “My first choice would be fishing live mullet around lighted bridges, concentrating on areas where there are lots of black mullet. My plan B would be jigging the ledges in Palm Beach, Jupiter and Ft. Pierce inlets--I like to fish 40-foot ledges and creep the jig down and crawl it back up.” For jigging, Dave fishes 30-pound Spiderwire on heavy plug rods and for bridge fishing he uses 80-pound mono on a ten-foot “snook pole,” a custom rod with a two-foot butt. Dave advises everyone to attend the Inshore Riggin’ it Right Academy to learn the three most important knots for snook fishing: the braid-to-mono uni-knot, the Stren knot, and the non-slip mono loop. “Tell everyone to bring their charts and maps and I’ll be happy to mark off my top ten areas for year ‘round snook fishing in Southeast Florida.”

3 p.m., Fishing the Indian River for Trout, Redfish and Snook Capt. Ed Zyak of Jensen Beach is pictured on the September ‘06 cover of Florida Sportsman holding a giant trout that tipped the scale at 13 pounds. Capt. Ed is a Shimano and Minn Kota pro-staffer and fishes the pro redfish tournament circuit, which includes the ESPN Redfish Cup and the Inshore Fishing Association’s Redfish Tour--he is also a regular personality with American Outdoors and Cabella’s Quest on Fox Sports TV. Most days will find Capt. Ed guiding clients on the Indian River near Stuart for giant snook and gator trout. “We’re lucky here to have big, big snook and some of the largest trout in the country,” says Capt. Ed. “The tactics I use here are good anywhere there are mangrove shorelines, shallow grass flats, and fast moving water.” Topics will include how to locate the biggest fish in the school, tackle selection, lure rigging and presentation, and will end with Capt. Ed throwing prize packages to the crowd.

4 p.m., Bucktail Jig Fishing Capt. Tony Bozzella is the maker of TBS Jigs, the Florida Sportsman Team Leader at the Inshore Riggin’ it Right Academy, and has been a consistent top five money winner in inshore tournaments around Florida. Capt. Tony has a unique plan when it comes to artificial lures, believing that a bucktail can outfish any lure on the market when fished properly in the right conditions. "Bucktails are deadly!" says Capt. Tony. "They can have more action than plastics and my seminar will back up that claim." Capt. Tony looks for a lot of current and runouts, focusing on feeder creeks, mangrove cuts, and oyster bars--all of these create fast moving tidal water that attracts feeding redfish, snook and trout. Twenty years of jig-fishing knowledge is packed into this 45-minute seminar, so you won't want to miss it. The seminar will end with a segment on Capt. Tony’s top five types of lures.

Offshore Stage:

11 a.m., Sportsman’s Best: Snapper and Grouper Capt. Rick Ryals is co-author of Florida Sportsman’s new book and DVD, Sportsman’s Best -- Snapper and Grouper, and team leader of Riggin’ it Right at all Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Shows. Ryals is also the captain of a new 35’ Cabo Express, Dos Amigos, that fishes Florida waters in search of big snapper and grouper. Ryals has won many tournaments over his 30 years of Florida fishing and will speak about how to greatly improve your catch of the most sought after reef and wreck fish, snapper and grouper. Topics will include rigging bottom fishing terminal tackle, best baits, how to catch and store live bait, anchoring and drifting techniques, and end with someone in the audience winning an autographed copy of Sportsman’s Best--Snapper and Grouper.

Noon, Sportsman’s Best: Sailfish This seminar will be all about sailfish techniques and tackle, baits and rigging tips highlighted in the book, Sportsman’s Best--Sailfish, by local charter captain George LaBonte of Jupiter. Even though LaBonte has caught thousands of sails and authored an earlier book on sailfish he went to great lengths to get the advice of the best known experts in the sport . “These guys are personal friends and together we have a hundred years of sailfish experience and knowledge,” says LaBonte. That collective wealth of sailfish expertise will be presented at this entertaining and informative seminar that uses both a big screen to watch incredible action-packed underwater footage from the book’s accompanying DVD and LaBonte’s energetic live explanations. Capt. LaBonte will give you the information you need, from getting started with your basic setup to outfitting your tournament winning boat.

1 p.m., Swordfish are Back! Capt. Bob Pelosi was born and raised on the banks of the Indian River in Jensen Beach and was one of the swordfish pioneers in the 70s when the average catch was a 168-pound fish caught once every two trips. “Technology then wasn’t what it is today,” says Pelosi. “We’re catching more fish but they’re smaller, averaging 80 to 100 pounds--that’s climbing as the stocks rebuild from overfishing.” Pelosi is fishing for swordfish several nights a week and reports four bites a night and landing half of that by fishing the “Northern Drift” from Boynton Inlet to Fort Pierce. “Every couple of months new tackle and techniques show up, like a new method of rigging baits and new kinds of lights. And new baits, too--we‘re still using squid but now we‘ve added mackerel and ladyfish.” Topics will include using Electrolume, strobe and HydroGlow lights, proper release and tagging techniques, terminal tackle rigging, and tackle selection.

2 p.m., Sportsman’s Best: Offshore Fishing Capt. Buck Hall is the author of Sportsman’s Best: Offshore Fishing and the Panhandle Field Editor for Florida Sportsman Magazine. Buck spends an average of 60-80 days a year offshore with some of the best charter and tournament captains in the business of putting people on fish. Offshore Fishing is compiled from trips and interviews with more than twenty professional and tournament winning captains so this seminar has something for everyone, novice to pro. Buck took plenty of notes and will share them with you in this informative and interactive seminar. Topics are right out of the pages of his book and will include offshore strategies for Florida‘s huge variety of offshore sportfish and table fish, reading the water, lure selection, best natural baits and best trolling spreads.

3 p.m., Dolphin and Wahoo If you’re serious about learning how the pros catch big dolphin and wahoo, this seminar is a must. Capt. Budd Neviaser of New Smyrna Beach will share 35 years of experience on the blue water off of Florida’s Space Coast hunting and catching trophy fish for his customers. “The Gulf Stream off West Palm is like a fish highway for migrating predators, says Budd. “Large schools of bait are swept along the eastern seaboard attracting trophy billfish and great table fish like dolphin and wahoo. If you’re going to target them you better know how to find them and understand effective trolling techniques to catch them.” Capt. Budd will show a slide presentation on catching dolphin and wahoo with information on feeding habits, geographical locations and migrations, plus many other pro tips.

4 p.m., Advanced Bottom Fishing: Wrecks and Reefs. Capt. Eden White is a Florida Sportsman field editor and host of the Palm Beach edition of the Florida Sportsman Live radio show. He is also a local charter captain and topnotch bottom fisherman. White will share his expertise on finding and anchoring over wrecks and reefs, favorite baits, rigs and tackle, and using electronics to find good bottom. “Bottom fishing is like the real estate business--it’s all about location, location, location. When you find good bottom, you’d better be sitting right on top of it,” advises White. Topics will include how to anchor over wrecks and reefs, bait rigging for different species, and a special section on how to how to build Capt. Eden’s famous chum bucket.

Federation of Fly Fishers Casting Instruction
Ongoing at the Fly Pond

Riggin’ it Right Schedule


11:AM Bonito Strips: how to make ‘em, how to fish em. Guest Instructor Eden White
12:AM 30-Second Kingfish Rig
1:30 Ballyhoo A-Z
2:30 Bottom Fishing Basics
3:30 All about teasers, spreaders, and dredges


11 a.m. Uni-knot System -basic knots you need to know
12 p.m. Soft Plastic Basics- rigging sof plastics for snook, trout, reds, bones, etc.
1:30 p.m. Terminal tackle rigs for Live baiting- floats; freelining; bottom rigs
2:30 p.m. Light tackle rigs with Braided line; monofilaments; fluorocarbon
3:30 p.m. Soft Plastics- Thinking outside the box with modified baits

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