Florida Sportsman Magazine hosts the popular Florida Sportsman Expo at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa next weekend, on Saturday and Sept. 23.
Exhibits, lessons and demonstrations occur throughout each day, with fishing and hunting seminars, casting ponds, children's 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 and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Vendors offer show specials and discounts on boats, tackle, gear, gadgets, hunting trips and accessories, works of art and more.
"It's a golden learning and buying opportunity," Expo director Doug Kelly said. "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 days 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 area media personalities.
Featured speakers for the inshore and offshore fishing stages include top guides such as Rick Grassett, Mark Nichols, Dave Pomerleau, Glen Pla, Bill Miller, Billy Miller, Jim Lemke, Hank Williams and Sergio Atanes, speaking on everything from snook to snapper to tripletail, trout and cobia. There's also a special kayak fishing stage.
On display at the hunting stage will be a souped-up airboat and two giant swamp buggies. Speakers offer tips to improve the odds of bagging trophy bucks, gobblers, hogs, ducks and choices for this fall's most productive wildlife management areas and hunting camps.
Attendees can learn how to effectively throw a cast net in five minutes in the cast net pit. There are also free fly-casting instructions, and children have their own events at a hookless spin-cast pond with free "can't-lose" prizes by Zebco — there's even a children's face-painting booth by renowned artist Tony Ryals, the famed quadriplegic who paints using his mouth.
Tickets at the Florida State Fairgrounds box office are $8 for adults and free for children 12 and younger with an adult. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 23. For a discount coupon and more details, visit www.floridasportsman.com/expo.