The Fishermen's Row sector of the 37th annual Chesapeake Bay Boat Show will take a new tack when the popular show opens a nine-day run tomorrow at the Convention Center and adjoining Festival Hall. Call it "instant fishing."
Previously, angling experts targeted fishing information for warmer months. However, this has been a moderate winter, despite the recent chill, and there is much open-water fishing available. Anglers anxious to test the waters can get up-to-date information on where, when and how, and then grab their tackle and go.
As usual, the big attraction at boat shows is boats, and the faster and more glitzy the better. And there will be many of them among the fleet of 550 craft on display.
Among this year's biggest are the 39 1/2 -foot Sea Ray Sundancer -- a six-sleeper with low profile that cruises close to 30 knots and tops out near 38 knots on twin 340-horse MerCruiser gasoline inboards, and the 38-foot Bayliner 3888 Motor Yacht with twin turbo-charged diesels.
Both are in the $150,000 range, and the latter -- with a built-in fish well -- would be a good bay or ocean fishing boat.
Bounding back in popularity are deck boats, formerly known as pontoon craft. Credit renewed interest in speed. A 20-foot Fiesta with a 150-horse outboard can do 50 mph, add 10 with a bigger engine. Another has a jet drive that pushes it to 50.
Deck boats, most of which are under $20,000, are ideal for fishing or crabbing. They need only six to nine inches of water, are low enough to grab a catch, and there's plenty of deck space. They're tops for waterskiing, suitable for fair weather cruising, and, of course, fit the bill for partying while under way or at the docks.
Among the fishing attractions will be the booth of the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfishing Association, which specializes in bay angling. Members will be seeking signatures to petitions that will ask the General Assembly to make rockfish a game species. The 7,000-member group already has more than 1,000 names on the requests.
Outfitter/author Ken Penrod will host the Fishing Information Booth in Festival Hall, assisted by guides Bob Denyer and Charlie Baden. Denyer specializes in the Potomac, Patuxent and Lake Anna, and Baden is an expert on the James, Potomac and Chickahominy.
There is considerable fishing available right now, according to Penrod, especially in the Potomac near Washington, tidal rivers near warm-water outflows of power plants and at Lake Anna. Penrod has written two books on Potomac fishing and expects his third -- "Tidewater Bass Fishing" -- to be published in March.
The schedule for other appearances at the booth:
* Tomorrow/Sunday: Richie Gaines, Patuxent and Potomac rivers and the Chesapeake Bay; Bob Troupe, Eastern Shore and the Potomac.
* Monday: Bill Glotfelty, James and Potomac rivers.
* Tuesday: Dean Atchley, Potomac, Buggs Island and Lake Gaston.
* Wednesday: Steve Folkee, Upper Chesapeake, Northeast River and Susquehanna Flats.
* Thursday: Larry Dixon, Potomac, Nanticoke and Choptank rivers.
* Next Friday to Sunday: Gaines and Troupe, Patuxent, Potomac and Chesapeake Bay.
Show hours are Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Monday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children. For information, call 385-1800.
Skippers who don't get what they consider a reasonable offer for the trade-in of their used boat at the show will have an opportunity to sell it through a broker when the weather gets warmer, thanks to a new show planned May 2-5 at Annapolis Yacht Basin.
The Annapolis Brokerage Boat Shows will cater to brokerage houses along the East Coast, which have both power boats and sailboats to sell. All the boater has to do is place his boat with a broker, then let him do the bargaining. Call 1-301-268-8828.