Click here for Merit McCrea – WHEELHOUSE SCOOP

Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Lighting the underworld
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Channel Islands flatfish

It's Here!
What am I going to do at the Long Beach Fred Hall Show? That is the question. So many booths, so little time... Well, I'll get there early, because that's when my ride with Wendy Tochi gets there. I'll stop by the CCA-CAL booth outside first and see how things are going getting sign-ups and sending folks in for free.

Then I'll shimmy on in, schmoozing along the way, drop by through the Arena and then all the sparkling craft at Angler's Marine, stopping by the WON sales booth to see the swag that comes free with a fresh subscription this season.

From there, it's past the noshes on the right, and Bill Boyce on the left. And straight up the middle to all the party boat and landing booths, checking out the Accurate Island and Penn too, landing at Izorline. By then it will be dinner time.

Then, the next day, well, perhaps I'll stop by our WON 30-footer and help out with the winner spinner for a minute or two. Of course, you have to have a coupon for a new subscription to spin and win. –unless you're a kid. If you are a kid, we'll let you have a spin just for fun. Kids and spouses need to have fun too. They're such good sports and all, putting up with our fishing, hunting, diving and boating addictions.

Along those lines, kids need to stop by Izorline for stickers too. Usually they have piles of fish stickers. The sharks are a big hit, although dads like their kids to choose yellowfin, or green bass.

Just a word of advice here. Don't let the folks at Izor teach your kids or wives to tie knots, because they'll end up kicking your butt in the knot tying contest. Happens every time. Us guys, we're no threat. We think we already know so we put our own spin on it, just like on deck.

With 80 percent of the Show still to see on day two, I'll have to get serious about seeing the rest of the show. I'll stop by Bob Sands Tackle and brag to Sal Valone about how I was good friends with Bob Sands himself, back in the day. (Apparently there never was such a person).

That's where Lead Master Central is, with smoking deals on terminal tackle. Key items are those ever upright, never-snagged weedless leadheads that work so well with the Big Hammer swimbaits. In addition, there are a couple of new lead designs, including Leadmaster decoy weights and long, lean snag-less cod sinkers.

Of course, Save-On Tackle needs a visit, and Tady Lures. I also want to see if Xtratuf will have their cool white shrimp boot here on the West Coast.

Wendy Tochihara, Izorline's National Sales Manager, says their knot tying contest will be held at the main Izorline booth, and the Izorline Coach's Tent near the Friends of Rollo booth. So I'll have to see if I can tie a knot in their 60-pound that breaks outside the knot, at over 100. That's the benchmark.

I'll have to go see the dogs jump out back and go for an extra long cast at the casting pond, a Long Beach-only event. I'm Jonesing for that Daiwa Lexa 400 HS-P on the Proteus 8 footer. I'm not sure whether the MH or H version is my favorite yet. I think the H, but I'll have to try a cast or four first, of course.

Dang, then I'll have to head back on in to check out the newest Accurate Valliant, the BV2-1000 Mark Malkin just sent the press release out on. Ben Secrest will be in the booth I expect. This is the castable big game version, a light-weight beast with a 1,000-yard – 100-pound braid capacity and 40-pounds of drag – at only 29 ounces.

Calstar is usually not far from Izor and I'll have to check it all out, especially their modern T-540 version, a light iron calico classic. Next it's finding Phenix. There's rumored to be a new graphite woven material out, a must-see in a finished rod blank.

I'm hoping to see Steve Carson at the Penn/Berkeley island. I've heard from deep inside the industry that stepping up from the already awesome Fathom 40N to the all USA made Torque 40N is the new cool and comes with a performance boost, on top of the obvious burlyness boost.

I'm sure that by the time that's done it will be late, Tochi and I will be making a quick run by Turner's Outdoorsman to see their show deals. It always ends up with us looking at hunting gear here, instead of fishing stuff. We'll have to hit up Lori Sachau to see how many reels she's sold this time around. She knows her stuff, the reel stuff.

Somehow, it ends up with Wendy dragging me past big game mounts, as I pause to admire them, on our way to check out the camo gear deals at Jimmy's.

That's not the only "Jimmy's" in the show hall. At the opposite end of the main hall, one is likely to encounter Long Beach Tackle's Jimmy Vo. His booth has great cod jig deals and Caivo brand versions of the Asian-style irons that have taken over the party boat scene by storm – holograpics, butterfly-style jigs, exotic evil-eyed stuff too.

Gotta see the latest kayaks as and 'yak gear, stand-up boards with Whisper Drives and camo cast and blast boats. There are a couple of free-diver booths with the latest in seabass hunting gear. The DFW and NMFS booths need a look as well.

All along, we'll be winding our way through awesome trucks and boats galore. And I'll be trying to avoid coming home with one of those pillows or glasses cleaner kits. You know the ones...

Did I mention marine electronics, motors, Promar hoops and nets and underwater lights and traps or gaffs? It's going to be a blast!

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Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California partyboat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at: merit@wonews.com.

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