The Meandering Angler: Alameda Fly Fishing Show

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Only the hardiest of crazed anglers go forth during the cold, wet and windy days of winter, and the rest of us make plans to attend one or both of the grand expos available to us this month and next.

The first is the International Sportsmen’s Expo, which begins next Thursday, Jan. 17, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 20. It occupies several huge buildings at CalExpo, on the east side of Highway 50, where they hold the state fair and other large events every year.

It is California’s largest indoor/outdoor expo with more than 600 exhibitors, outfitters, vendors and guides filling five buildings and outside areas with gear, local and worldwide destinations, dozen of free video theaters and demo area. And it’s all about fishing, hunting, offloading, boating, RVing, camping and kayaking.

It is like the world’s largest candy story for anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

You can spend hours there, perhaps even two days or all three, taking it all in, and fantasizing about a dream trip for your bucket list. You can also find deals on a new rod, reel and all the latest tackle and gadgets on the market.

Tickets are $16 for adults, while active military and youth 15 and under get in free. Parking is $10. Hours are 11 am to 8 pm. Thursday and Friday, 10 to 8 on Saturday and 10 to 5 on Sunday.

For the whole skinny, go to

The second big event, and my favorite, is the Fly Fishing Show on Feb. 22, 23 and 24 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. This is a smaller, more intimate show than the Sacramento Expo, focused entirely on fly-fishing, but even that limited scope requires several large buildings and three days to accommodate.

My favorite area is the building where all of the lodge and fishing resort owners and outfitters set up their booths. I can spend hours just listening to them tell me all the wonderful things I could enjoy if I booked a stay with them. Most have videos, brochures, photos and even drawings to win a free stay.

There are also multiple theaters in which you can hear guides and resort owners narrate a video about their destination.

Virtually all of the top rod, reel and tackle manufacturers have booths, and there are lots of opportunities to test-drive the latest rods.

There are casting classes, fly-tying classes and experts in every kind of fly-fishing offering seminars and the annual Fly Fishing Film festival.

Pleasanton is about an hour and 15 minute drive from Sonoma and the show is well worth the drive.

Tickets are $15 per day for adults. Children 6 to 12 just $5, 5 and under free. Active duty military also free.

For more information go to

For anglers determined to get on the water, it is likely that all of the runoff will dramatically improve sturgeon fishing in the bay. Call Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, (415) 456-0321 to find out where you can go to fish. Also, weather permitting,, Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing is still taking clients out for limits of Dungeness crab. Call Rick at 875-3344.

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