By Gene Kira, February 17, 2003, as published in Western Outdoor News:
"Okay, see you at the show..."
This year, more than ever it seems, a heavy contingent of Baja fishing folks is headed for the "Fred Hall Show," which is actually three separate shows: Long Beach, Del Mar, and Ventura.
The full name of this Southern California spring phenomenon is the "Fred Hall Fishing Tackle & Boat Show," and for those who've never been to one, just let me say that if you fish in Baja--or especially if you're thinking about making your first trip--you really owe it to yourself to "do" Fred Hall.
For me, it's an annual deal, and I usually hit more than one show per year because it's hard to see enough in a single day; sometimes people you miss at one show will turn up at another. Can't remember the last time I missed Fred Hall completely.
Anyway, this year there will be a lot of "Baja fishing" booths at the shows and it's a good way to meet just about everybody whose names you read all year in the pages of Western Outdoor News. Most of the major Baja sportfishing booking agents, hotel owners, and fleet operators will be in their booths. Fred Hall is an ideal time to meet them and compare notes, and it's a great way to pick up special package prices on everything.
After hitting the Baja aisles, it's a good idea to have lunch and then, very slowly, peruse the tackle manufacturers' booths. Be forewarned that you can't do justice to this part of the show in one year. There are just too many brands represented. It's a temptation to dog-trot down the endless aisles and try to "see everything." Trust me. It can't be done.
Instead, I like to focus on one or two categories (like spinning reels, for instance), ask a lot of questions, and really learn something. On rods and reels, especially, Fred Hall is a chance to handle and play with more brands and models than you will ever find in a single store. Basically, the whole universe is there for the asking. Fun!
There's a lot more to do and see at Fred Hall that won't fit in this column, especially the boat displays, which are also endless, but the best thing is meeting people. The more years you go to Fred Hall, the more important this aspect becomes, and eventually you realize that in it's half-century tradition, this thing has become sort of a big Baja family reunion. Wouldn't miss it for the world.
"See you at the show!"
(Fred Hall Fishing Tackle & Boat Show, Long Beach Convention Center, March 5-9; Del Mar Fairgrounds, March 19-23; Ventura County Fairgrounds, April 3-6.)
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")