For more than two decades, the Outdoors Expo & Boat Show in Tampa has been a “can’t miss” spring tradition for generations of boaters, fishermen, hunters, and those who love the outdoors. The show enters its 22nd year with a new name and new hosts, but all of the great shopping bargains, speakers, and activities our attendees are looking for.

As always, the Expo will feature continuous hands-on, how-to activities, presentations from a variety of outdoors experts, a shopping extravaganza and boat show in a family-friendly country fair atmosphere. The Expo boasts 140,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space plus outdoor display areas and lakes. We feature more than 150 exhibitors. Whether you passion is boating, saltwater of freshwater fishing, cast netting, fly fishing, hunting, dog training or kayaking, the News Channel 8 Outdoors Expo and Boat Show is the place for you.

Hosted by the “Reel Animals”

“The Reel Animals,” Captains Mike Anderson and Billy Nobles are no strangers to the Expo and certainly not to our attendees who watch them on TV and listen to them on the radio.

Captain Mike has been fishing and competing in tournaments on Tampa Bay and Florida water for more than 20 years. A Wisconsin native and Air Force veteran, Mike has been guiding on the west coast of Florida for more than 12 years and specializes in back country fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish, and trout.

Captain Billy is a native of North Carolina who began his fishing career at 13, mating on offshore boats and fishing in tournaments throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. As a charter captain in west central and southwest Florida, Captain Billy fishes as many as 300 trips a year. He specializes in catching trophy fish on light tackle inshore and offshore.

Together, the “Reel Animals” host a fishing show that airs on WFLA-TV News Channel 8 as well as nationally and in Canada. More than 85 million households can tune into the “Reel Animals Fishing Show.” In addition, Captains Mike and Billy host radio programs on Saturday and Sunday mornings on Tampa stations WFLA 970 and WDAE 620 respectively.

The “Reel Animals” have spoken at the Expo for years, and their exhibit booth is a popular place for attendees to hang out and “talk fishin.”

Special Guests and Activities

Chuck Devereaux, a veteran of the B.A.S.S. tournament series and an accomplished teacher and speaker returns this year to lead four seminars daily at the AAA Bass Tub Stage. Besides general bass fishing tips, Chuck will discuss which baits to use and how to use them to fish like a pro.

The “Wear It Florida Safe Boating Stage” and “Chevrolet Main Stage” will feature dozens of renown anglers discussing topics ranging from salt water fly fishing to fishing the flats. Where to go and what bait to use to land, pompano, tarpon, trout and redfish. Captain Red Ed Brennan will even do a session on “scalloping.”

The Thunder Marine stage will feature sessions geared to boaters. Topics include boat detailing, understanding boat electronics and “Ladies at the Helm,” boating instruction for women.

The Archery Shop Stage will feature sessions on bow fishing, gator hunting, and new hunting product technologies. Mark Beck will be offering “Tips on Archery from a World Class Shooter.” As in past years, The Archery Shop exhibit will feature a range where shooters can “test drive” the newest bows and children can handle age appropriate bows and arrows.

Speaking of kids, this year WFN is presenting the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Fishing Derbies conducted by “Get Reel” on Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers help kids bait their hooks, cast and reel in their catches on a small stocked lake behind the exhibit halls. There are grand prizes for the largest fish caught over the weekend in this catch and release contest. However, all kids receive goodie bags for participating.

The Devore Labradors Kennel returns with demonstrations on pointing and retrieving as well as a variety of dog training tips on all three days of the show.

On Saturday from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., attendees can try their hand at bow fishing at another lake behind the exhibit halls.

Admission and Hours

Admission to the Expo is FREE FOR ALL AGES on Friday, March 1, courtesy The Tampa Tribune. Admission for ages 13-and-up is only $8.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Parking at the Fairgrounds is five dollars.

Show hours are 1:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Saturday; and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. The State Fairgrounds are located east of Tampa near the junction of I-4 and I-75.

Vendors

Vendors from across North America will offer great deals on boats, personal water craft, ATV’s, fishing tackle, hunting gear, resorts and lodges, canoes and kayaks and other outdoors-related items. In addition to the special discounts, Expo visitors will get their first look at many new products.

Non-profit fishing, hunting and conservation groups – including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Coastal Conservation Association, and the Florida Guides Association will be on hand. Whether your favorite pastime is fishing for bass, kings, grouper, snook or redfish; or hunting turkey, deer, or ducks, you’ll find the right club or organization with experienced members and volunteers eager to share their expertise with you.

Image courtesy Tampa Outdoor Expo

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