January-February-March is the time of the year to catch your local boat shows. 

The St. Louis Boat Show was February 8-12.  I look forward to this show every year.  This year the number of boats and vendors was much larger than last.  I hope this is a sign the economy is getting better.  I talked to a dealer from Nameoki Marine out of Granite City, Illinois, and he said that they sold 24 boats this year compared to 7 last year.  The crowd attending on Saturday reminded me of the crowds in the late 1990's.  It was so crowded at times you had to turn sideways to get through. 

I love to look at the new boats; it doesn't matter if they are fishing boats or the larger pleasure boats.  Boats have really improved the last couple of years--more neat gadgets to better fuel economy. I was impressed with the new pontoon boats. The new ones are like small floating cabins.

I was invited to attend Nameoki's open house the next weekend, and again, turnout was good--lots of interest shown in bass boats.  I loved this open house because of the fishing stories people are already telling.  With the weather being unusually mild, people are already catching lots of fish--even crappie. 

My wife and I just returned from the Bass Master's Classic in Shreveport, Louisiana; and, as in St. Louis and Granite City, the attendance was outstanding.  I love the Classic; it really gets my juices flowin, and I'm excited about another boating and fishing season. 

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My First Bass Masters Classic

I just sat down to read BassTimes Magazine.  The very first page is called "The Editor's View" by Dave Precht.  Dave talks about B.A.S.S. moving their headquarters from Celebration, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama.  This got me to thinking about the town of Birmingham and my very first Bass Masters Classic.....

The year was 1996.  I was invited to attend the Classic and promote my new invention,the AKUA Bass boat fender.  I had never even heard of the Bass Masters Classic.  Mickey Wood of Ranger Boats described it as equivalent to the Masters Golf Tournament for professional fishermen.  I was both honored and excited about attending the Classic with Ranger.

When I arrived in Birmingham I was taken away at the excitement that surrounds the Classic.  When I entered the vendor area, I was totally surprised at how many boat companies, fishing lure manufacturers,  and fishing accessory stores were represented. But, as excited as I was, the best was yet to come.

When the main program started on the first afternoon, I couldn't help but get goose bumps.  The auditorium was totally electric.  People from every walk of life were going ballistic.  Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., was  the emcee, and Ray has a way of getting people excited.  Dewey, Ray's side-kick, was the official in charge of the weigh-in.  The program centered around Americana. It was well done and very patriotic. 

The weigh-in was even more dramatic.  Each fisherman, in their fishing boat pulled by a Chevy truck, went around the arena before stopping in front of the stage.  With the crowd cheering, the fisherman would pull out their catch of the day one fish at a time and put the fish on the scale. Dewey and Ray were at their best with jokes, comments, and fishing insights.  What a great memory!  I have never enjoyed anything more in my life.

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