Mark your calendar! The 44th annual Central Texas Boat and Outdoor Show kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday at the Bell County Expo Center.
The show’s major sponsors, Marine Outlet in Temple, Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle in Killeen, and Bingham Marine in Belton, have all worked to ensure something of interest for the whole family exists at this show, whether or not there is a deep interest in the outdoors.
UNIQUE CHANCE TO COMPARE BOATS
Certainly, the display of state-of-the-art boating technology will be the focus of the show. A wide range of boats and other watercraft will be on the floor and on display. Attendees may push buttons, open hatches, flip switches, try out the upholstery, and perhaps most important, make comparisons between brands, makes, models, features and prices across multiple boats and boat dealers all under one roof.
Boats by G3, Tidewater, Lowe, and BassCat will all be on isplay, as will Yamaha personal watercraft, along with outboards by Yamaha and Mercury. Dozens of boats to include kayaks, bass boats, salt water bay boats, catfishing boats and family pontoons will be present.
Beyond the boats, other outdoor-focused business will be present and serve as able ambassadors introducing especially those new to the area to what Central Texas has to offer.
My own business, Holding the Line Guide Service, will be represented — my fully-loaded guide boat will be the backdrop to my booth where I will have a three-day show-and-tell taking place while selling lures, booking trips, and catching up with show-goers.
Crappie fishing guide Tommy Tidwell from Lake Granger will be present, as will Marty McIntyre of Garquest Adventures. McIntyre, a bowfishing guide, will have a setup allowing kids to shoot low-draw weight compound bows at fish targets in a small pool located off the bow of his trailered boat on the showroom floor.
The Fishers of Men nationwide fishing tournament organization will be on hand, along with no less than five local fishing clubs for both youth and adults. JMB Fishing Foundation, specializing in taking families with special needs children out fishing, will also be on hand.
COME SEE THE LIVE FISH WEIGH-IN
Two tournament series will be taking place simultaneously on both Saturday and Sunday, offering the opportunity to see four live weigh-in events in which local anglers show the still dripping-wet fish they caught from Belton Lake and from Stillhouse Hollow, and tell a bit about what it took to catch those fish.
These fish are then kept lively in a holding tank prior to release.
The 20-year-old Tuff-Man Series ends for the year at the Boat Show with the close of the championship round on Sunday. Over $25,000 will be paid out to the top winning teams from a field of 60 qualifying teams. Saturday’s weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m., and Sunday’s weigh-in begins at 2:30 p.m.
As the adults fish Belton first and then Stillhouse on Sunday, the Central Texas High School Tournament Trail will be doing just the opposite. Their two weigh-ins take place at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.
JUST FOR KIDS
As kids walk up and down the aisles of the boat show, the environment is different from the manufactured fun of movies, TV,and video games to which so many are accustomed.
They, too, are welcome to be hands-on when it comes to the boats on display.
With kids in mind, show organizers have arranged for Kids Fish to be on site, offering indoor fishing for catfish stocked in an above-ground pool.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will have its “Hall of Shame” trailer present, displaying seized fish, wildlife and equipment taken from poachers and scofflaws. TPWD will also have its ShareLunker trailer present to communicate the organization’s proactive approach to growing genetically superior gamefish for Texas waters.
A personal watercraft (jet ski) simulator provided by Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 5-7 will be up and running for kids to ride, as well.
A host of formal seminars and informal talks will take place throughout the weekend. B.A.S.S. top anglers will be present to field questions and sign autographs, including Alton Jones Sr., Gary Klein and Frank Talley.
I will be speaking about the Humminbird line of sonar units and their i-Pilot Link interface with Minn Kota trolling motors.
Tommy Tidwell will speak on crappie fishing in Central Texas. Chris Payne will be taking on the topic of kayak angling, and Bob Pohlman will address fly fishing for novices.
OUTDOORS NOT YOUR THING?
If you are one of those team players who may be coming to the boat show because your spouse wanted to, but for whom the outdoors is not your thing, there will still be a few things of interest to you on the grounds.
Superior Tours and Travel will be present to offer advice on your next getaway. Light of Mine Rock Candles, Scentsy, and Nikken Wellness will have their wares on display. Things and Such will have their signature jams, fruit butters, bath salts, essential oils, chow chow, cowboy candy and other goodies there for sale.
Adjacent to the Boat Show and on the same grounds, a dog show, a National Cutting Horse Association equestrian event and a SAMI arts and crafts market will all be taking place simultaneously over the course of the weekend.
One of the show’s perennial favorites is the Wooded Acres Discount Fishing Tackle area, run by James and Daun Cantrell from near Lake Richland-Chambers. Their deals on rods, reels, lures, line and terminal tackle are hard to beat. James routinely deals in refurbished gear, gear recovered from broken packaging and more, allowing him to offer equipment at pennies on the dollar.
According to Cantrell, “It will be worth a person’s time to come see me; I’m going to be running a special on Skeet Reese rods this year.”
Higher end rods from Kistler, Diawa and Duckett will be available from those manufacturers.
IF IT’S BROKE, FIX IT
Whether it is your boat, RV, automobile, house, roof or off-road vehicle in need of a little tender loving care, show vendors will be present to help get such things back in order.
Anything Fiberglass repair services of Belton is onboard, as is Lynch’s Off-Road Motorsports Repair, Custom Truck and Wheel, Bath Fitters bathroom remodeling, LeafFilter gutter screens and Mac Haik car dealership.
If it is your canine that is giving you trouble, you can have it repaired at Sit Means Sit Dog Training.
Bones out of whack? Two chiropractors will be present. As I mentioned, the organizers have really tried to make sure all the bases are covered.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Each night as the Boat Show nears an end, one lucky paying visitor will win a drawing for a $250 Visa gift card.
TIMES AND ADMISSION
This year’s show will run from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for youth 13-18, and free for kids 12 and under. Admission for military members and first responders with identification is $5.
Parking is free.