Hardly a week goes by in Central Texas that doesn’t include a nice weather day. My Yankee relatives are constantly telling me about the snow drifts blocking their doorways, the sub-freezing temperatures even during daytime hours, and the next wave of winter weather heading their way.

I try not to rub it in too much, but the fact is that living in our area is ideal for folks who don’t like seasonal weather restrictions on fishing, camping, hiking, boating, golfing and other outdoor activities.

No matter the weather next weekend, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the 2017 Central Texas Boat and Outdoor Show at the Bell County Expo Center.

The latest boats, accessories, technology, and gear will be on display Jan. 20-22. Hours are Friday from 2 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Adult admission is $7, and kids 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Military I.D. and Youth 13 – 18 are admitted for $5.00 each. A 3-day pass costs $10.

Whether you’re after a fishing boat or just a water recreation craft, the event will have boats that will suit your needs and pack enough power to pin your cheeks to your ears in a stiff breeze, according to organizer Rick Smith. “Coming to the boat show is kind of like going on a cruise,” he said. You’re the captain and there is a buffet of beautiful watercraft waiting for you to take the helm.”

Smith said that during the annual boat show, marine dealers and boating manufacturers typically offer extra savings on watercraft, so it’s a good time to make the decision to buy. There will even be people on hand to finance your purchases.

Exhibitors will include Marine Outlet, Campbell Wooden Boats, Temple Kayak, TightLines Premium Fishing Tackle, Uncle Gus’ Lodge, Waco Motor Sports and Yowell’s Boat Yard. Name brands include Bennington Pontoons, Bass Cat, Bryant, Eagle Bass Boats, G3, Gator Tuff Duck Boats, Gekko, Hurricane and Starcraft Deck Boats, Larson Runabouts and Family Boats, Nitro Bass Boats, Ocean Kayak, Old Town Kayak, Roundabouts, SeaDoo Personal Watercraft, Skeeter, Sportsman by G3, Suncatcher, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, Tracker, Veranda, Yamaha Waverunner Personal Watercraft and Xpress. Many of the boating packages include motors from Mercury and Yamaha outboards, including the latest in fuel-saving 4-stroke technology.

There’ll also be plenty of merchandise on hand to restock and upgrade your gear for the spring fishing season, as Smith says tubs and tubs of lures, racks of rods, and tables of casting and spinning reels will be available at discounted prices.

In addition to boats and merchandise, a number of seminars, exhibits, and activities will let you get some inside information and hands-on action.

Crappie guide Tommy Tidwell will talk techniques and gear for Centex crappie at noon on Saturday and Sunday, with a 5 p.m. Saturday session thrown in as well. Three-time Toyota Texas Bass Classic champ Keith Combs will co-emcee the TuffMan Bass Tournament Championship on both days next weekend in addition to speaking and giving tips, advice, and autographs during the event. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, guide Bob Maindelle will talk science and technology when it comes to catching hybrids and white bass. Fly fishermen can get some insight on gear and techniques at Bob Pohlman’s workshops, slated for 11 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

The TuffMan Bass Tournament Championship coincides with the boat show, and weigh-ins will take place under the Expo Dome, after which the fish will be released alive back into the lake. The winning team will take away $10,000 in cash, with another $10,000 in cash and prizes possible.

A Kid Zone will offer children the chance to catch catfish, work out some energy in an inflatable jump house, and even do some bowfishing target practice from the deck of a boat

A number of other organizations will be on hand to exhibit their wares and services. The Expo Center is located along I-35 in Belton. Take Exit 292 and look for the dome. For more information, call 254-773-9931.

Local striper guide back home after medical scare

A week after going home from the hospital following a life-threatening medical event, Lake Whitney striper guide Clay “Keith Richards” Yadon is back on the water doing what he loves. Stay tuned for more fishing reports.


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