Fishing workshops may hook visitors at boat show

February 06, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Boats serve a variety of purposes, from transportation to racing to merely providing a pleasure platform for an afternoon on the water.

But as the 39th Chesapeake Bay Boat Show opens for a nine-day stay at the Baltimore Convention Center and Exhibition Hall, fishing clearly ranks as a primary boating pastime for thousands of Marylanders -- be they largemouth bass chasers in fresh water or rockfish/bluefish stalkers in the Chesapeake and along the Atlantic shore.

Fish-minded visitors to the show can take advantage of an alternating series of workshops on freshwater and saltwater angling skills during both weekends of the show's run. In addition, a Wednesday night visit is planned by national bass-fishing champion Tommy Martin.

Then there are the boats, more than 200, with the usual assortment of accessory and boating services displays, including a group of water skiing clinics this year and a "Boating Basics Fair" on the final Saturday of the show.

"This is where we sign up most of our new members," says Richard Novotny, executive director of the Maryland Saltwater Sport Fishermen's Association.

A charter boat skipper operating from the Kentmoor Marina on Kent Island, Mr. Novotny will present the saltwater fishing workshops. His seminars are scheduled at 2 and 6 p.m. today, 4 p.m. tomorrow, noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and noon Sunday, Feb. 14.

"I'll be talking about the spring fishing for both rockfish and bluefish," he says, including tackle and tactics advice for the two popular species. Workshop participants will also be briefed on state regulations for the protected rock.

What is the fishing outlook? As with many things on the Chesapeake, "it all really depends on the weather," Mr. Novotny says.

Warm temperatures tend to lure the ocean species farther into the bay, while rainy conditions that reduce the salinity of the estuary tend to keep them closer to the Atlantic.

The Sport Fishermen's Association, Mr. Novotny notes, has about 6,500 members and includes 15 chapters across the state. The group's annual display at the Chesapeake Boat Show offers a variety of information and charter opportunities.

The freshwater fishing workshops will concentrate on smallmouth and largemouth bass, whose numbers in Maryland waters rank the state pretty high on the national map of bass territory, says Mark Hoos, who will be leading the freshwater workshops.

Mr. Hoos' presentations are scheduled at noon and 4 p.m. today, 2 p.m. tomorrow, 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

"The bass fishing market is the biggest market in the country, and the Potomac River is probably one of the best bass fisheries in the nation, definitely in the top five," says the experienced angler, who has competed on the national bass fishing tourney trail and is affiliated with The Fishin' Shop tackle store in Baltimore.

The upper Chesapeake, from Middle River northward, is also coming on strong as a bass habitat, he explains, and also for a long-term weather reason.

Remember Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972? The furious storm stripped the upper bay of much of its underwater plant forms such as milfoil and hydrilla, both of which provide shelter and food for bass species.

"We're finally getting a lot of that growth back, and the numbers are looking good," he says.

In his workshops, "I'll let the people at the seminars really dictate what I do with each one," Mr. Hoos says, inviting people to raise wide-ranging questions about freshwater fishing.

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10, professional bass fisherman Mr. Martin is also scheduled to make a presentation.

Many Maryland boaters, of course, prefer to troll skiers rather than fishing tackle behind their vessels. So the first weekend of the show includes a series of water-skiing clinics presented by MasterCraft Pro Team member Skip Gilkerson. Although stuck on the dry Convention Center floor, he will demonstrate basics at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. today and 1 and 3 p.m. tomorrow, in exhibit space number E3.

The show's final Saturday next week will include a Boating Basics Fair, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a variety of ownership, operation and safety workshops presented by the show's producer, the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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