Something fishy happened at the fairgrounds
Fred Hall show adjusts to the state of the industry
There are plenty of fish in the sea, but last weekend, lots could also be found on the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
They were there for the 36th annual Fred Hall Fishing Tackle Boat and Travel Show, which included portable fish tanks big enough for outdoors sportsmen to use to demonstrate their skills.
The event also featured boating and hunting vendors and displays, with diving set to be added next year.
Bart Hall, son of the late founder Fred Hall, said the economy has really taken a toll on the boating industry. He said in 2007, roughly 450,000 boats were produced, but last year, only 50,000 were made. Hall said the event would continue to be successful and will do what it has to do to remain the keynote consumer boat show in San Diego County.
“I’m pretty excited about being the only boat show left; we worked hard to achieve that category over the years,” he said. “No one does fishing like we do.”
The event also comes right at the beginning of the Southern California saltwater fishing season, which runs from mid-March to the end of November, according to Pete Gray, who co-hosts a fishing radio show on XX-1090.
Jeff Stock, manager of the Solana Beach-based San Diego Fly Shop, said having the show at this time is a boost for business, which lags after the holidays.
“You go into winter time. Fishing slows down, especially offshore, which is our key fishing grounds,” he said. “When that’s busy, we’re busy, which is in the summer time.”
Locally, Stock said the kelp beds off of Fletcher Cove are popular among fishers.
“Beach fishing gets really good too; the water warms up and you got a bunch of other species that show up,” he said of the peak season.
The Fly Shop, located on Rios Avenue, has been a repeat exhibitor at the Fred Hall show over the years.
“We’re afraid if we don’t show up one year people are going to think we’ve gone under,” Stock said, adding that while the fishing industry is down, the Fly Shop has found a successful piece of the market. “We’ve kind of got a little niche where we are because we’re in Solana Beach. There’s no other fishing store within 15 miles or so because everything else is down south.”
Bart Hall said he will carry on the tradition started by his father, Fred, even if it means adjusting to the state of the boating market.
“We don’t call it like a flower show or a boat show,” he said. “We call it the Fred Hall Show, the ultimate outdoor experience.”
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