by John Skinner
"You're picking again." said my fishing expo neighbor, Mr. Cash, at a recent show in Amityville. "I know. It's difficult to stop." I confessed, as I rummaged through one of several large bins of used plugs. I've accumulated so much gear over the years that I should be the seller instead of the buyer, but there are little finds at these shows at prices that are often difficult to pass up. I was kicking myself when I realized I was picking at leftovers after I recalled seeing anglers walk away earlier with bags of Mr. Cash's stuff.
What was there that I couldn't resist? First was a 6-inch yellow Bomber for $2. Nothing special, right? Well to me it was, because this was an old Bomber from the days when the tail hook was attached to the plug with a heavy-duty screw eye. Today's Bombers are thru-wired, which is a structural improvement, but the old ones swim higher. Look in my North Shore bag some night and you'll find several 6-inch Bombers – and they're all old ones. It's a deadly plug that swims just below the surface. This particular plug was the yellow "chicken scratch" pattern, my favorite, so it was the icebreaker into my wallet. With hundreds of plugs in my basement, I was stopping there. A half-hour later I was back, out of curiosity I told myself. What's this? A yellow 2 ¾-ounce Gibbs pencil popper in excellent condition for $7? Digging deeper I found a blue one for $6. They joined the Bomber back in my booth. Driving home I wondered why I held out on the 2-ounce Gibbs Danny swimmer for $8. It's a good thing I still own seven Penn 706Z reels, because Mr. Cash had several beauties at reasonable prices, along with just about any other old Penn you could want. I disciplined myself to not even look at the rods he had.
This was just one booth. Steve Petri's booth had new Al Gag's pencil poppers for something like 2 for $20. The booth across the aisle from me had loads of marked down Gulp baits. The table next to me was moving a lot of very realistic sandeel imitator tins. I saw bucktails for less than it would cost to tie them yourself if you had to buy the deer hair. Then there were the soft plastics…
The wide range of gear, new and used, all in one place and for sale at often-excellent prices was just one part of the show. The other part was the seminars. Bill Wetzel, Bill Muller, Paul Melnyk, Tom Mikoleski, myself, and others, all willing to share expertise and have their brains picked. The nice part about picking the brain of someone standing in front of a room full of people is that they may say something or give you some detail that they would normally withhold when writing. It's easy to be careful when writing. It's not so easy when giving a seminar.
The show I'm referring to here was the early January 2012 Long Island Recreational Fishing Expo held by the New York Coalition for Recreational Fishing (NYCRF). In all honesty, and I hope the organizers don't get mad at me, this was the smallest and least attended show of this type I had ever been to. Nonetheless, the show still gave you a heck of a lot for an $8 admission fee, especially if you needed gear. It's also a good feeling knowing that the profits from the show are used to support fishing access, and this group has fought and won some major battles for anglers. The low attendance at Amityville was likely due to the new location, as these NYCRF Expos are usually very well attended and have many vendors. The next one is at the Islandia Marriott February 3-5, and this will definitely be a larger show judging by how well it went last year at this location. By the way, Mr. Cash told me he'll also have a booth in Islandia so you can get to check out his plug bins and other stuff.
I managed to make it out of the show with just the three plugs and a couple of replacement guides that I bought at a good price from Steve Petri's booth. The wallet came home fatter though, because I sold a 9-foot custom Lamiglas rod for $150. I can only use so many 9-footers. Considering this rod had $70 worth of Silicone Carbide guides, this was yet another steal that somebody left the show with.
Another good show in February is the 30th Annual New York Sportfishing Federation Forum and Auction at the Freeport Recreation Center February 17-19. There's also "Surf Day", an excellent show for surfcasters held by the Jersey Shore Surfcasters in Lincroft New Jersey on February 25th. This is a pretty short ride from Staten Island. If you know of any other shows you'd like to mention, add them to the comments. These are a nice way to break up the winter!