TAMPA, FL. Florida Sportsman magazine hosts the popular Florida Sportsman Expo at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa over the weekend of Sept. 22-23, 2012.
Ever stood eye to eye with a Burmese python? That experience and more await at the Expo, now in its 20th year and staged like a colorful three-ring circus for anglers, boaters and hunters. Activities, exhibits, lessons and demonstrations occur throughout each day with fishing and hunting seminars, casting ponds, kids' events, a hands-on rigging table, free fly- and net-casting lessons, the newest lineup of boats of all sizes and exhibits by Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Rows and rows of booths will offer show specials and discounts on boats, tackle, gear, gadgets, hunting trips and accessories, works of art and much, much more.
"It's a golden learning and buying opportunity," said Expo Director Doug Kelly, who's also a Florida Sportsman Contributing Editor. "It's a blast checking out all the new gear for 2013 and saving big on some early Christmas presents."
An added bonus on both Saturday and Sunday is a free chance for all attendees to win a 42-inch flat screen TV, donated by Expo title sponsor The Sportsman Channel. Florida Sportsman Editor Jeff Weakley will be on hand to greet visitors along with fishing legends Mark Sosin, Al Pflueger and many Tampa Bay media personalities.
Featured speakers for the Inshore and Offshore fishing stages include top guides such as Capt. Rick Grassett, Capt. Mark Nichols, Capt. Gary Burch, Capt. Dave Pomerleau, Capt. Tim Whitfield, Capt. Glen Pla, Capt. Bill Miller, Capt. Billy Miller, Capt. Terry LaCoss, Capt. Jim Lemke, Capt. Hank Williams and Capt. Sergio Atanes. A brief sampling of the topics to be covered include:
• Snook Secrets from the Experts
• Targeting Tripletail and Cobia
• Proven Methods for Fishing Artificial Reefs
• Tips on Getting the Best Deal on a Boat
• Zeroing-In on Snapper & Grouper
• Can't-Miss Top-Water Plugging Techniques
• Angler on Foot Stage (beach, pier and wade fishing)
• Kayak Stage (all the ABCs to get into kayak fishing)
On display at the Hunting Stage arena will be a souped-up airboat and two giant swamp buggies that are sure to keep the iPhones clicking. Speakers include Jonathan Swindle, Tony Bozzella, turkey- and duck-calling experts, top pros with shotguns, rifles and archery-all offering valuable tips to improve the odds of bagging trophy bucks, gobblers, hogs, ducks and choices for this fall's most productive WMAs and hunting camps.
A favorite show attraction is the Riggin' it Right Academy. Groups of anglers take turns sitting at tables with all supplies and tackle provided for free while Florida Sportsman staff gives hands-on instruction on properly rigging the baits and lures that work best around Tampa Bay.
Attendees can learn how to effectively throw a cast net in only five minutes in the large cast net pit. Those interested in fly casting will receive free instruction at a 100-foot indoor pond. Kids have their own events at a hookless spin-cast pond with free "can't-lose" prizes by Zebco - there's even a kids' face-painting booth by renowned artist Tony Ryals, the famed quadriplegic who paints using just his mouth.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will display exhibits of interest to boaters and hunters as well as the Florida Sportsman Grand Slam Tank, a 500-gallon mobile aquarium. Kids will be kept busy and win prizes with the FWC's "Fish ID" contest.
"Everything's included in the admission price," noted Kelly. "It's going to be a super happening for everyone who loves the outdoors."
Tickets at the Florida State Fairgrounds box office are $8 for adults and kids 12 and under with parents free. Show hours run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23. For a discount coupon and more details visit www.FloridaSportsman.com/Expo