Winter is not the best time of the year to be in Delaware, but at least this winter has been reasonably mild, so far. There are activities that can help us get through the cold, drab days until spring, and on the top of the list are boat and fishing shows.
The closest boat show to Sussex County is in Ocean City, Md., at the convention center. The Seaside Boat Show runs Feb. 14-16, with hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. This show will have most of the local boat dealers, and you can expect to make your best deal for sales and service with one of them.
A new fishing show, the Philadelphia Fishing Show, in its second year, will be held Feb. 21-23, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Twin Oaks, Pa. Twin Oaks is north of Valley Forge off Route 422. I have not attended this show, but I suspect it would have a variety of fresh and saltwater fishing tackle, and might even have some fly-fishing stuff. The Fisherman Magazine will offer a series of seminars that are free to those who attend the show.
My personal favorite is the Pasadena Sportfishing Group’s Flea Market held Feb. 15-16 at the Earleigh Fire Hall off Route 2 in Pasadena, Md. The show opens at 8 a.m., Saturday, with a very long line. I plan to arrive between 9:30 and 10 a.m., when the line has dissipated and they still have a few of those delicious pit beef sandwiches left.
The beauty of this show is the stuff people bring. I have found old lures for next to nothing and craftsmen who have developed new lures or rigs that I just have to try. When I say old lures, I am not talking about collector items, although I have found a few of those. I am talking about Mr. Wiffle soft plastics that are deadly on trout, rockfish and flounder. California metal lures for $1 that will work on sea bass and bluefish. Most of the prices are reasonable and the selection is very wide. If you need sinkers, two guys bring a selection of all sorts to the show and sell them for a good price.
The show has grown so large that they now have a tent outside to handle the overflow. Also outside are a few new and used boats.
Admission is only $5 and all profits go to the Pasadena Fishing Group’s Take a Kid Fishing Program.
The best show for us saltwater fishermen is held in Edison, N.J. It takes about three hours to drive up there, but if you fish in saltwater, I think the drive is worth the effort. Try to find a couple of friends to split the cost and the driving, and make a day out of it.
The Saltwater Fishing Expo is held in the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center March 13-15 off Exit 10 of the New Jersey Turnpike. If you take I-295 from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to I-195 to the New Jersey Turnpike North to Exit 10, you will save the toll money from the bridge to Exit 7. Follow the signs from Exit 10 to the convention and expo center.
This show has everything for the saltwater fisherman, from hooks and sinkers to boats with at least four outboards. Believe it or not, but the prices for fishing tackle are reasonable, especially considering it is New Jersey. Gas for your car is not. Fill up in Delaware before heading out. One of my favorite booths sells pickles. They have flavors you have never heard of. You may also find new ideas for fishing tackle. I found a really neat flounder rig last year, but I have not had an opportunity to try it out.
Tog remain the best bet for saltwater fishermen. Head boats from Lewes and Ocean City along with a few charter boats from Indian River and Ocean City have been catching tog with some fish exceeding 10 pounds. The bite can be gangbusters or very slow. The weather, current flow and the general cussedness of fish all play a part in the success or failure of any trip.
Yellow perch have been caught in Maryland, but reports from Delaware remain slim. Even in the usual Maryland hot spots of Perryville, Port Deposit and the Choptank River, only small males have been taken. For some reason, the usually dependable white perch have been playing hard to get.