What’s wrong with bass fishing shows? In their heyday, mid-winter fishing shows attracted tens of thousands of anglers shopping for boats, tackle and seminars. BASSARAMA was huge for over 25 years! Not any more. Shows don’t have “it” anymore! There’s something about shows in this region. A bit further south and shows boom! Further north and the same is true! The regions’ fast pace, reliance on the Internet for tackle and seminars, and the dominance of big retailers is making it harder for shows to compete. And now, boat dealers are going at it alone.
Boats brought them in! Whether someone was in the market for a new boat or just wanted to see what was new, boats were the star of the show. Recently, boat dealers have been conspicuously absent. Instead some have opted to throw their own shows, many in direct competition with the “big” show! It was a matter of time! It’s a lot of work to haul boats to a show, set up and break it down. Housing and feeding staff is pretty pricy too! Why would a boat dealer want to spend the time and money to go to a show, when they could have an Open House and heavily promote it for less money and have their entire inventory available! In fact many sell booths at their dealerships to tackle related companies!
Shows brought in big name talent and it didn’t matter which headliner showed up to bore the crowds with inane tank demos or thoughtless half hour seminars. Seminars used to be part of the excitement too! Nowadays, show promoters, trying to save a few bucks will get bargain pros to appear. To fill out the schedule, shows allow exhibitors to place their local pros on stage to do infomercials for their products. This is in contrast to quality on-line seminars that are outpacing shows, offering at-home viewing without having to park or invest a lot of non-productive time. Shows are as low tech as can be. Not much buzz on the Internet either. In fact, some shows have come and gone almost un-noticed.
Speaking of products, there aren’t a lot at the shows. Manufacturers used to appear with their entire lineup for fishermen to see and touch! This included the new gear for the upcoming season. Major brands also brought their top pros along to sign autographs or just chat about the products. This stimulated interest and the local retailers were able to cash in on the extra manufacturer push. It’s a changing marketplace. Nearly all Mom and Pop tackle stores are gone, replaced with big box stores. Like boat dealers, the big retailers don’t “need” a show! They are their own show! They produce month long events in-store to bring in national and local pros to demonstrate products with in-store experts to provide an informed shopping experience. In addition, the Internet keeps most bass anglers at home. They know what they want and shows don’t satisfy their tackle appetite. Ticket prices are affordable, but the “deals” end there! Nothing really special about show pricing, nothing special at all about the show experience.
Big shows have been in a recovery cycle for the last 10 years. One year there are huge crowds, but the lack of show attractions keep these people from coming back the following year. Too many non-fishing related booths; cooking, knife sharpeners, siding and window sales pitches and other detractions disappoint. But after a good attendance year, more fishing companies climb aboard anticipating a great show, but the prior year’s disappointed attendees stay home. Then the following year, word gets out that there are more fishing related booths, but last year’s disappointed exhibitors stay home. Bass shows were moving sideways. To grow the show, promoters add other fishing related themes. Saltwater, fly-fishing and destination outfitters provide floor traffic, not necessarily resulting in sales for bass booths. Show identity is now blurred!
Parking, flu season, and lackluster exhibitors are jeopardizing big bass shows. But don’t overlook shows, just lower expectations. As larger one-stop shows are fading, smaller more localized shows still offer a lot! It may not be the big show, but it’s still show time!
Potomac River Bassing in April
Fish are shallow! A variety of moving lures will work! In clear water, try Lucky Craft suspending Pointer 78 jerkbaits on Quantum EXO spinning reels with 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly! They cast a mile and can pick off aggressive fish. Using Mann’s Classic 3/8-ounce willow/Colorado spinnerbaits with white skirts on 12-pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line will work on areas close to deep drops.
Use craw pattern Lucky Craft lipless LV-500 in areas with emerging grass. Use GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon 12-pound test to crawl these lures on the bottom or snap and drop out of grass. In taller grass, go to the Lucky Craft LVR D-7.
For creek mouth points and flats with deep water close by, use a Lucky Craft LC 1.5 RT with rattles to cover shallow areas with riprap and wood cover. Use casting gear with 10-pound test Copoly line
It’s also time to unleash Mizmo tubes with an insert head on spinning gear with 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly line. Start targeting docks near deeper water, as fish will use them as current breaks. These can be fished anywhere along with Punisher ¼ ounce hair jigs. Fish baits slowly and spray with garlic Jack’s Juice fish attractant. For the hair jigs, try 15-pound GAMMA Torque braid with 8-pound Copoly leader.
Carolina rigs also cover long flats. Use a 12-24 inch leader. A ¾ or 1 ounce Round Valley Tungsten weight will keep the rig in contact with the bottom. Use soft plastics soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray.
Written by: Steve Chaconas
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas, is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatU.S. (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.