Event combines fishing, boating

COSTA MESA — Two boat shows will combine to kick off the summer sport fishing and boating season at a two-day event hosted by Pacific Coast Sportfishing Magazine and the Southern California Marina Assn.

The Newport Beach based-Pacific Coast Sportfishing Magazine held its first Saltwater Sportfishing Festival in June at the Orange County Fairgrounds. On May 21 and 22, the festival will merge with the Orange County Boat Show, at the fairgrounds.

The boat show, now in its 40th year, is returning to Costa Mesa after a stretch in Anaheim.

"It made sense, fishing and boats go hand-in-hand," said Drew Lawler, the magazine's president and editorial director. "To the extent that theirs is a family-oriented show and ours is too, it really brought together the experience that a family could come to check out latest in sportfishing, attend the seminars and also be treated to an expanded venue of boats. It's a win-win situation."

Although last year's exact attendance count was not available, the sportfishing festival attracted several thousand people, said Bill DePriest, the magazine's publisher and editor.

The festival, which he believes to be unique to the West Coast, also attracted visitors from as far as San Diego and Santa Barbara.

The Southern California Marine Assn. boat show typically drew crowds up to 14,000 over a four-day show and may draw up to 10,000 for the first joint-partnership show, said Dave Geoffroy, executive director of the association.

Part of this was due to the lineup of well-known anglers and industry experts, which led to full-house seminars, he said.

The seminars return this year with Barry Brightenburg and Chugey Sepulveda on lures for attracting coastal white seabass, and Todd Mansur on reading offshore conditions for tuna, among other speakers.

The seminars are first-come, first-served for seating, so DePriest advised that interested attendees arrive early.

Although past year's crowds were characterized by a strong presence from Anaheim and Inland Empire cities, the joint-partnership show adds a "new dimension," which Geoffroy hopes will retain prior year's attendees and draw new ones.

"We're hoping to cast a net over a wide range of people," he said.

In addition to showcasing boats and products, the two-day event will also have live music, food vendors, a beer garden, free standup paddleboard lessons, Bubble Roller Water Balls demonstrations and other activities.

"We really want our shows to be full-featured boat shows," Geoffroy said. "It's not a just marina full of boats where you walk around endlessly — this is a family show and there is something for everyone."

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