If one stays pretty much in the Chesapeake, there's really no need for a big boat. Generally, if the weather is too sloppy for a small boat, it's not going to be comfortable on a bigger one.
And, a small boat will cost a lot less.
One of the most exciting fishing boats at Baltimore Convention Center, where the 37th annual Chesapeake Bay Boat Show continues through Sunday, is the Grady-White Atlantic 26, which is 28 feet 11 inches from bow pulpit to stern.
Topping out at 43 knots and cruising at 27 on twin Johnson 200s, this seaworthy queen burns 14 gallons an hour. For the fish there are three built-in fish boxes, including one of 40 gallons that also serves as a live well.
This is an $82,500 two-sleeper with head, galley, fly bridge, outriggers and a lot of metal, and she can work into shoals for breaking blues as she needs only 19 inches of water. Cockpit space is sufficient for four trollers, and there's a walk-around cabin with sturdy rail.
If the family won't go for a strict fishing boat, there's something uniquely different, and suitable for fun fishing at about one-third the price -- and one-third the speed.
Also an outboard, the 25-foot Nimble Vagabond five-sleeper is more along the lines of a trawler, which makes her as nimble in rough water as her name implies. Show-goers call her Popeye because of resemblance to the tug used by that cartoon character.
She's as strong as Popeye in fuel consumption. She will do 7 knots on a 9.9-horse Yamaha outboard; you can double that with a 50. This is Hull No. 1 of a new small family line, and she's equipped with a pair of rod holders in her compact cockpit. With marine head and galley, figure on about $25,000.
The Genesis by Wellcraft is best described as a deckboat, but with no pontoons. Instead, she has an air-slot hull, with spacious cockpits fore and aft for family fishing and crabbing. The center console is big, so is the power, a V-8 I/O that will top her out at about 44, and cruise easily at 30.
She's of futuristic design, this 20-footer with 8 1/4 -foot beam, and has a bow pulpit, sink and running water, and for an extra $2,500, a full canopy will make her a houseboat. She looks snappy enough to be considered a fishing boat, and is priced at $23,000.
Bassboat business is holding up well in these economic and war times, and among the snappiest of the bass'n fleet is the 17-foot SCX by Astro that -- with a 135-horse Mercury -- will break into the high 50s. She's rigged with three depth-finders, trolling motor, a pair of aerated live wells, and all kinds of stowage space.
There's a stainless prop, power tilt and trim, also a trailer, all for about $14,000.
If pond fishing by oar is your bag, there's the 9-foot, 3-inch, Conny by Black Dog Boat Works of Annapolis, a handsome handmade mix of finely polished wood and fiberglass. With 3-foot, 11-inch beam, she can fish two easily, and can double as a tender, or rigged with sheets for sailing. At 90 pounds, she's ideal for car-topping, can handle a 4-horse outboard, and is priced at $1,700.
* Busiest booth at the show is that of the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfishermen's Association as visitors sign petitions to make rock a gamefish. Nearly 10,000 have signed at the show, upping the January total to more than 25,000.
* Exhibitor Monty Hawkins, who will skipper the new 80-foot-plus headboat O.C. Princess out of West Ocean City's Shantytown Pier, figures the Boston mackerel run will be hot by mid-March. Twenty-five charterboats from 25 to 58 feet will also sail from the docks there this season. Call Hawkins at 1-800-457-6650.
* Calypso Inflatables is sampling interest in forming a club for the growing number of anglers who use that type craft. If interested, call Kathy Ames at 280-5006.
* If you're new to fishing, exhibitor Capt. Steve Shipley will take you in your boat for $200, his for $300, for a day's lesson. A two-day set-up course to plan how to rig your boat and prepare you for handling the electronics, boat and tackle is $300 on your craft; $550 on his. He also charters out of South River. Call 1-301-721-7517.