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Outdoor show provides preseason warm-up

Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:55 PM

A great cure for the February blahs is the annual Tennessee Fishing and Boat Show that runs Feb. 7-9 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

The show features hundreds of booths overflowing with tantalizing tackle, interesting exhibits, and seminars by a host of outdoor experts including Lebanon's Jim Duckworth. Jim will discuss winter smallmouth fishing, including float 'n fly, jerkbait fishing and Silver Buddy fishing.

Show times are noon-9 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. More information is available at tnboatexpo.com.

One of my favorite stops every year is the antique tackle booth manned by Mt. Juliet's Gibby Gibson. Gibby conducts lectures on the various items, ranging from expensive vintage lures to century-old fishing gear and gadgets used by early anglers.

Visiting Gibby's booth is like taking a tour of a fishing museum, complete with guide, because he take time to chat and answer visitors' questions.

An expanded feature will be Tennessee State Park booths and exhibits. State parks have grown in popularity over the years, yet many residents are unaware of the many attractions and events they offer -- at no charge.

Another popular attraction are booths promoting Canadian fishing packages. Having made wilderness fishing trips there for over 30 years, the photos and slide shows bring back special memories.

There is a wide range of packages available -- from rugged remote outposts to posh lakeside lodges that include prepared meals and room service -- with an array of prices that can fit most any budget. Canada has long held a strong attraction for fishermen from Middle Tennessee, and the outdoor show booths do a brisk business.

Closer home, various fishing clubs and guides promote their services. From Percy Priest stripers to Dale Hollow smallmouth, from Caney Fork trout to Kentucky Lake crappie, there are fishing guides ready to book trips.

Most of the guides are willing to share tips about the species they specialize in, as well as information about particular lakes.

Fishing resorts promote fishing packages, many offering seasonal discounts.

Dozens of tackle companies display their wares some old standards such as the area-manufactured Buckeye Shad, others from all around the country.

There's usually some especially hot lure or tackle item that has fishermen flocking, with tackle reps on hand to explain why and how it works.

One of my favorite all-around lures is the RoadRunner, and the versatile spinners are represented at a number of booths at discount prices. It's a good time to stock up on these and other standard lures that never go out of style.

Duckworth's booth features bins of Bandit lures in every imaginable color and ranging from deep-diving to shallow-running. He also stocks just about every other item an angler could want. He not only sells it, he explains to customers the best way to fish it, and shares tips on some of his favorite area waters.

There will be a trout pond for kids, a casting contest, and prizes ranging from a kayak to Bill Dance DVDs and a guided fishing trip.

The show is fun and informative, and visitors can load up on tackle and tips that will serve them well in the coming season.

When the outdoor show arrives, spring can't be far behind.

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