Story by Tom Pagliaroli

The advent of the spring fishing season is signaled by the burst of fishing flea markets where winter-weary anglers, both fresh and salt, seek decent-to-super deals on used and new rods and reels, electronics, rigs, lures, sinkers…just about everything to do with casting hardware or soaking bait.

Seminars also starting to get underway, with 99% dealing with all facets of saltwater, from river to bay to surf to the offshore canyons.

Then…it’s show season. The two most popular in New Jersey are the Atlantic City Boat Show (February 28-March 4) at the Atlantic City Convention Center, and the Somerset Saltwater Fishing Expo (March 16-18) at the NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. Granted, the tackle selection at the boat show is on the lean side, but the seminars sponsored by The Fisherman Magazine are well worth the price of admission. The “saltwater expo” is almost beyond reality in the scope of exhibitors, products, services and seminars, and is a must-attend for anyone who wets a line in the brine.

But back to the flea markets.

The first is the Third Annual Sunshine Foundation Fishing Flea Market this Saturday, from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m. at the Little Egg Harbor Community Center, 319 West Calabreeze Drive in Little Egg Harbor (Mystic Island). Admission is $4 for adults. Solid selection of tackle and fishing knick-knacks. Refreshments are available and the chili is a tummy pleaser.

The second is the mega-popular Southern Regional High School Fishing Show at the Southern Regional Middle School, 75 Cedar Bridge Road in Manahawkin, Saturday, February 17 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Always crowded, this is a monster venue for steals and deals on tackle of all kinds. Admission is $4, with youngsters under 12 free is attending with a paying adult.

Steak ‘n Seminar: The Jersey Coast Anglers Association is hosting an all-you-can-eat steak dinner next Saturday, February 10 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Forked River Tuna Club, 318 Bay Avenue (a minute off Route 9 north or south). It’s a $50 ticket that gets you a steak, and more steak, dinner that also includes rolls, salad and dessert, and also a “Bucktailing Fluke” seminar by noted captain Chris Dos Santos of the BarbGail IV out of Point Pleasant. There will also be an update on the pending sea bass and fluke options for the 2018 season presented by former JCAA president Paul Haertel. Oh yeah…the 50-50 will probably pay for a charter trip! For a ticket(s), call Paul at 973-943-8201.

Youth Ducking: Next Saturday, February 10 is the second “Youth Waterfowl Hunting” day in the Coastal Zone. Youths under 16 possessing a Youth Hunting License and HIP number will be allowed to hunt and must be accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years or older. All bag limits and restrictions apply. There are still plenty of mallards, black ducks, buffleheads, gadwalls and Canada geese frequenting the salt marsh creeks and bays east of the Garden State Parkway, and this is a final opportunity for kids to enjoy a quality waterfowl hunting experience sans the crowds.

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