Other Sports: Non-fishing specific craft are dominating recreational …

A Dallas tradition, the DFW Winter Boat Expo, will be at Dallas Market Hall for a seven-day run starting Friday.

The boat show is a one-stop aquatic shopping mall where boats, boating gear and boating adventures are congregated in one large exhibition space that’s ideal for comparison shopping.

The show is not open on Monday, Feb. 6; Tuesday, Feb. 7 or Wednesday, Feb. 8. Hours are shortened on Super Bowl Sunday, which traditionally does not attract much of a crowd at the expo.

This year’s show features more than 650 new boats and watercraft models on display and available for purchase from more than 20 North Texas boat dealers. Nearly 150 vendors will feature a variety of products and experiences ranging from ski sales to sales of private lessons and summer camps.

Bron Beal, the show’s executive director, said the popularity of boats designed for family recreation has risen sharply over the last few years. He figures the sales of family recreational boats outnumber the sales of fishing boats by four or five to one.

“Paddle boats have also made a tremendous gain in popularity,” said Beal. “Kayaks, paddle boards and other smaller recreational vessels are a huge part of the Boat Expo.”

No matter where you live in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, there’s a recreational lake close by. Boating is an outdoors pastime that draws families closer together.

When my wife and I were newlyweds, nearly 48 years ago, one of our first major purchases was a new boat. It wasn’t the smartest money we ever spent but we had no children at the time, no responsibilities except to one another.

We made lots of great memories aboard that boat and we often relive the highlights spent camping on islands at Sam Rayburn Lake, waterskiing, fishing and viewing wildlife that we would not have otherwise seen. In retrospect, I’d do the same thing again.

A lot of American families apparently feel that way. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, boat sales are expected to rise between six and seven percent this year. That’s because of consumer confidence and because of the success of products aimed at attracting younger boaters.

Texas is a big part of the boating industry. Florida is the only state with a stronger boating market than Texas. In 2015, Texas sales of new powerboats, engines, trailers and accessories totaled $1.4 billion, up 8.2 percent from the previous year. And here’s a number that the new president should like — 96 percent of the boats sold in America were built in America.

My wife and I haven’t owned a boat in years, but we’re about to change that and I’ve been doing a lot of research lately to narrow our choices. We’re more into fishing these days, and there are many good fishing boats available.

We’ll probably wind up with a small, aluminum fishing boat. They’re much less expensive than fiberglass boats, and they require less outboard or electric power. A lightweight boat is easier to launch and load and also easier to tow behind a smaller SUV.

“We have definitely seen the aluminum fishing boat market go through a boom,” said Beal. “They are just as capable as their fiberglass counterparts but are less expensive.”

Beal said boat dealers really like this show because of the sales contacts they make. While sales during the show may be as high as 300 new boats, follow-up sales as the warm-weather boating season approaches often match or exceed boat show sales.

DFW WINTER BOAT EXPO

What: North Texas’ largest boat show.

When: Feb. 3-5 and Feb. 9-12.

Where: Dallas Market Hall, 2200 Stemmons Freeway.

Hours: 3-9 p.m. Thursday and Fridays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. Hours subject to change.

Admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children 5 through 13.

Additional information: Online at dallasboatexpo.com.

Calendar

Sunday, Jan. 29: Duck season ends statewide.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department accepts largemouth bass of 13 pounds or more in its ShareLunker breeding program.

Friday, Feb. 3-Sunday, Feb. 12: Dallas Winter Boat Show at Dallas Market Hall, 2200 Stemmons Freeway. Details online at dallasboatexpo.com.

Thursday, Feb. 9: First of four two-hour fishing seminars at Richland College called Crappie and Catfish Go To College. Seminars are taught by professional anglers. Enrollment is $89 for all four seminars — Feb. 9, Feb. 13, Feb. 16, and Feb. 23. Hours for each seminar are 7:30-9:30 p.m. Enroll by calling 972-238-6146. Details at crappieuniversity.com.

Sunday, Feb. 26: Quail season ends statewide.

Saturday, March 4: Cabela’s King Kat catfish tournament at Lake Tawakoni with weigh-in beginning 3 p.m. at West Tawakoni City Park boat ramp, 1208 East Hwy 276. Registration and other details are online at kingkatusa.com or call 502-384-5924.

Saturday, March 11-Sunday, March 12: Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival at Plano Centre with indoor and outdoor attractions. Details at txflyfishingfestival.org.

Friday, March 24-Sunday March 26: Bassmaster Classic championship tournament at Lake Conroe.


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