The excitement started to build at around 11 a.m. Friday. The line to get into the New England Saltwater Fishing Show stretched the length of the Rhode Island Convention Center around the corner to the Omni Hotel and then wound in zig zag fashion to accommodate all those wanting to get into the Show at the 12 noon opening.
As the crowd at the entrance stood in line, they watched the Fishing Show Launch Event. Those participating to open the Show included Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator of NOAA (and former RI DEM Director); Terrance Gray, Acting Director of the Department of Environmental Management; RI State Representatives Deborah Ruggiero and Terri Cortvriend (both of them are shore access champions); Greg Vespe, Executive Director and Dawn Filliatreault Wood, Board President or RISAA; and Lynn Medeiros, long time RISAA volunteer and wife of the late Stephen Medeiros, RISSA founding president and Fishing Show director.
The Launch Event included the sounding of vessel horns, one long and three short blasts, symbolic of a vessel leaving its dock as it backs into an alleyway.
Once open, excitement filled the exhibition hall. Greg Vespe, said, “Considering we were coming off a
COVID surge we had a very solid turnout of 9,000 plus attendees, most of whom came to buy. This led to high Show sales, very pleased vendors and a strong commitment from many not only to return but also to increase their booth space for next year. We also were able to sign up many new members as well as fund raise a bit for the Club and the Foundation.”
“We also had three unsolicited major donations at the Show to RISAA and its Foundation including donations from “Mr. Poseidon”, Crafty One Customs and RI DEM Enforcement Officers.”, said Vespe.
Some show highlights
There was a lot to like at the Show, as it is the largest saltwater fishing show of its type in the Northeast. The Show featured tackle, rods, reels, lures, electronics, charter guides, boats, engines, accessories, clothing and much more. About 275 booths and hundreds of manufactures were represented at the Show.
The Kayak Centre of RI, North Kingstown, RI
Kayaks are still one of the fasted growing segments of boating. I particularly liked the Hobie Mirage Lynx shown at the Kayak Centre booth. Chuck Jay, Hobie Northeast Sales Representative, slapped the side of the Hobie Mirage Lynx and said, “What makes this boat different is that it has a solid core, it’s 36” wide for great stability, 11 feet long and weighs only 47 pounds.” Fully rigged the boat is only 63 pounds. Christopher Catucci, a fishing sharpie and pro guide for the Centre and Hobie said, “Once I was introduced to kayak fishing I was hooked and have been fishing fresh and saltwater on kayaks ever since.” The Hobie Mirage Lynx has a suggested retail pride of $2,995. However, The Kayak Center has a range of boats and price points. Visit them at www.kayakcentre.com or at 70 Brown Street, North Kingstown (Wickford), RI.
Fishnet Charters and Capt. Mel True Custom Rods
Capt. Mel True and his son Nate (13 years old) held down one of the large end display areas at the Show. Capt. True was set up with his branded truck, a rack of his custom made black sea bass jigs and two full displays of his custom spinning and conventional rods. The rods were available in six and seven foot lengths. At $120 each (normally $220) the Cap. Mel True Signature Series fishing rods were a great deal. Capt. True said, “It’s like we blinked with COVID. This show has picked up right where it left off, traffic and business has been outstanding.” Customer Joel Salafia said, “Look at this rod (he was holding one of Capt. True’s conventional rods}. You can’t see this on the internet. I got a great rod at a great price.” I met Joel at the Snug Harbor Marina booth as he was purchasing a reel to match up with his new rod. Visit Fishnet Charters at www.captainmelture.com.
Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, RI
Elisa Cahill and her brother Matt Conti had one of their best days ever Saturday at the show. Their large end cap booth had hundreds of customers buzzing in and out of it. “I’d like a reel to match up with this rod.” said Joel Salafia of Durham, CT. “We have a broad range of reels to match.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor. Joel settled on a $210 Penn Squall bait caster reel and left the booth happy with his match. Elisa Cahill said, “It has been very busy, it’s been an outstanding Show.” Visit Snug Harbor at www.snugharbor.com.
Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, RI
“We had a terrific Show.” said Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle. “Customers each day were ready to buy. Our sales volume was way up. You could tell there was a lot of pent up demand out there.” When asked what was new at the show Neil said, “We introduced the new St. Croix Seage Surf Spinning Rods at the show. They are available in 7 to 12 foot lengths and are made with a newly engineered carbon fiber that is both stronger in flexural strength and lighter than previous rods. They range in price from $210 to $380. And, have a St. Croix 15-year warranty.” Visit Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle at www.quakerlanebaitandtackle.com
Saltwater Edge, Middletown, RI
Louis Schlaker, an associate at the Saltwater Edge said, “Top water lures are my favorites for early spring striped bass fishing. Lures four to five inches like Yo Zuri’s Hydro Pencil top water “Walk the Dog” style lure is great. They are available in four colors… black/silver, sardine, bone and mullet.” They were listed at $14.49 on the Saltwater Edge website. Schlaker said, “I also like using a soft plastic, such as a 7 ½ inch Slug-Go and the Shimano Coltsniper Splash Walker is also a great spring top water lure.” It was listed at about $18.99 on the Saltwater Edge website. Visit www.saltwateredge.com.