Shallow Water Expo deep

Staff Writer for Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 1 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Whether you want to improve your fishing skills, tackle or artwork collection, the Shallow Water Fishing Expo has what you need.

The second annual show opened Saturday at the Broward County Convention Center. It continues today from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 14.

The Expo is not a huge show, but it is a quality show. You can easily spend a full day gleaning information from a host of seminar speakers and checking out the latest in rods, reels, lines, boats, motors, push poles, kayaks, cast nets and other fishing accessories.

Between the exhibitors and the seminar speakers, the show covers pretty much everything from bonefish and tarpon to snook and redfish to largemouth and peacock bass.

High Roller Fishing Lure Company of Gainesville offers hand-made wooden lures that catch largemouths, peacocks, snook, trout, redfish and jacks, among other species.

High Roller's lures are a throwback to the good old days of fishing, when all plugs were made from wood. Now, the majority are made of plastic.

According to Rich Dixon, who makes and paints each High Roller by hand, wooden lures are more buoyant and durable. Plus all the hardware is stainless steel.

"Step on a plastic lure that's hollow and you get a crunch -- you can jump up and down on these without hurting them," said Dixon, who finishes each lure with a two-part epoxy gel coat, which results in a sparkling shine. "You can't get plastic that looks like this."

Most High Roller lures sell for about $10. If you don't make it to the Expo, you can see all six models at the Web site.

With lures like that, you want to be sure to tie good knots. At the Ande Monofilament booth, you can pick up a free knot-tying book as well as the West Palm Beach-based company's newsletter and catalog.

Alternative fishing lines made from Kevlar and fluorocarbon get lots of publicity these days but, as Ande marketing director Bill Munro noted, it's hard to beat good old monofilament.

"Over the last few years, we've seen a lot of different types of fishing line and I think they all have found their niche," Munro said, adding that of the 50-plus companies that sell line in this country, monofilament accounts for the bulk of those sales. "Monofilament is durable, it's consistent and the value is excellent."

Several artists are displaying their talents at the show. Among the most unusual is Alisa Utamating of Sarasota, who uses actual fish to make colorful impressions on rice paper, a Japanese art form known as Gyotaku.

Utamating's exhibit includes framed and unframed originals, signed limited edition prints, and open prints of snook, tarpon, sailfish, redfish, dolphin and hogfish. Especially interesting is an original she painted of a great egret perched in the mangroves overlooking a Gyotaku impression of a snook in the water.