It’s getting warmer out there and one bite after the next is popping up, we made it through winter, and now it’s time to get our gear in order and yank the winter covers off our fishboats. Which brings me to this month’s topic of discussion: boat reviews and boat shows.

boat with winter cover
Can we take that cover off the boat yet? PLEASE???

Recently a reader emailed me to let me know he didn’t like the boat reviews in FishTalk because they “never say anything bad.” It’s a common gripe I’ve heard through the years, not just at FishTalk but also at virtually every publication and outlet I’ve ever written boat reviews for. So, I wanted to clear the air a bit.

First off, we need to point out that there’s no such thing as the perfect boat. It doesn’t exist and it never will, because what’s perfect for you isn’t necessarily perfect for me. You might want stainless-steel rodholders, for example, but if I’m stretching the budget to get a boat I might be perfectly happy to see plastic and the reduced cost that goes along with it. Second, it’s exceptionally rare I come across a boat I don’t like. A fishing boat, any boat, is a ticket to freedom in the same way that a car, any car, can be a ticket to freedom for a new driver. I know I sure loved the 1972 Impala I drove when I was 18, even though the sagging headliner was moldy and the suspension felt like you were in a moon bounce. So always remember, what you’d call trash might be treasured by someone else.

But, what happens on those rare occasions when I encounter a really awful boat? I simply kill the review. The last time I had to go this route I was yelled at on the spot by the dealer, then received a nasty-gram follow-up. But if there’s a better way to handle this sort of situation I sure haven’t been able to find it.

For those of you who are boat-shopping and want to find the boat that’s as close to perfect as possible for you and your family, reading boat reviews like those in FishTalk should just be the beginning of your research — it’s impossible to examine all the complex facets of a boat and its many systems in 900 to 1200 words, anyway. But hopefully the review will capture the essence of the boat, giving you an idea if it’s in the right zone for your wants and needs. If it si you can dig a little deeper and find out more. If it still feels right, then you need to take a look at the boat in person.

This is the time to head for a boat show — and don’t forget, we have the Bay Bridge Boat Show this month, April 12 to 14 in Stevensville, MD. Boat shows are a great way to shop because they're when and where you can see a model of interest up close and personal, on the very same day you can take a look at its closest competitors all at the same time in the same place. Plus at some shows, the Bay Bridge Boat Show included, it’s also a place to learn about boats and boating. There’s a long list of seminar speakers touching on topics from finding the best dock-and-dines (10:15 Friday) to fishing for snakeheads with Team FishTalk II (2:15 Saturday). FishTalk's Angler in Chief Lenny Rudow will be giving a talk on light tackle jigging for rockfish as well, on Friday at 2:15; check out the schedule for the full listing of events.

boat show at the bay bridge
You'll find fishing boats galore at the Bay Bridge Boat Show. Oh, plus cruisers 'n stuff, too.

Bay Bridge Boat Show Details

  • Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
  • Free parking is provided off-site with shuttle busses taking you to the show from Christ Church Parish on Friday, and Kent Island High School on the weekend (follow the signs).
  • Prepurchase your tickets online. You’ll be automatically entered to win door prizes, and entry can be scanned from your phone.