Familiar faces at Cleveland Boat Show

Boating and fishing are big business around Port Clinton and Marblehead, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone living in the area or who visits during the summer that they just might bump into some familiar faces when they attend the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo at the I-X Center in Cleveland on Jan. 16-21.

An impressive contingent of local boat dealers has helped to make it the largest boat show on the Great Lakes. This year’s five-day show in the spacious I-X Center next to the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will feature more than 400 new power and sailboats, from basic paddleboards to million-dollar yachts, all with an invitation to “Come Aboard!”

Boaters, or those who want to be, will have the chance this year to check out more makes and styles of boats in less time than ever before. It’s also the winter season, a time when boat prices can be at their best.

To get an idea of the dynamic Western Lake Erie boating market, here are the Port Clinton and Marblehead boat dealers you’ll find at this year’s Progressive Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo:

Castaway Yacht Sales, Happy Days Boating Company, Marinemax of Ohio, Sirroco Marine/Erie Marine and Great Lakes BRIG, and Ship Shape Marine, all in Port Clinton; Lake & Bay Yacht Sales, Marine Tech Concepts, and Skipper Bud’s at Marina Del Isle, all in Marblehead.

The marinas showing off their docks and facilities include:

Bay Point Marina and Resort and Marblehead Estates and Yacht Club in Marblehead; Catawba Moorings, Safe Harbor Lakefront and the Portage River Paddling Company in Port Clinton.

All of the area tourism folks will be at the boat show, as well, including the Port Clinton, Put-in-Bay, and Kelleys Island chambers of commerce, the Marblehead Merchants Group and the big one, Lake Erie Shores & Islands.

The grand opening of the new Fishermans Central – Catawba, a massive tackle shop and the sponsor of the boat show’s new Fishing Expo, won’t happen until March. But it will make an impact in the Lake Erie Island area. It is the second location for Fishermans Central, which first opened in 2014 in the Portage Lakes area of Akron.

Fishermans Central experts will help to bring a long list tournament bass stars, such as David Dudley, Randall Tharp and Fat Cat Newton, to the fishing stage at the boat show. Lake Erie walleye experts will include female fishing guide Julia “Juls” Davis and walleye tournament pros Ryan Buddie, Ali Shakoor and Zak Jobes.

“The northern Ohio region is rich in fishing opportunities,” said President Michelle Burke of the host Lake Erie Marina Trades Association. “We have excellent smallmouth bass fishing — and the world’s best walleye fishery in Lake Erie.

“Our inland lakes are known for great largemouth bass, muskies and more. Moreover, there currently isn’t a good fishing show in northern Ohio. Now there will be,” Burke predicted.

Lake Erie anglers experienced phenomenal walleye fishing success in 2019, a season that was still vibrant just a few days ago from the Marblehead Peninsula to Cleveland for hardy winter anglers trolling crankbaits for their favorite fish.

“We had fishermen bringing limit catches of walleye to our Bay’s Edge Fish Cleaning Service last week, and there were a lot of trophy walleye in those coolers — and limits,” said Mark Cahlik, who owns Bay’s Edge, a fishing complex in Port Clinton. Bay’s Edge has a charter fleet of veteran walleye guides, a fishing cleaning service, luxury town homes for anglers, a bait and tackle shop and a marine repair and boat deck replacement shop.

“We’ve booked more exhibit space for the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo than ever before,” said Cahlik. “And we’ll be at fishing shows all around the country in the coming weeks. Lake Erie has been on fire, and anglers from around the country want to experience this amazing walleye fishery. We can certainly make that happen.”

This year’s boat show will open on Thursday, Jan. 16 with Put-in-Bay Night. Saturday, Jan. 18 is Lake Erie Shores and Islands Day.

Boat show tickets are $15, $13 for seniors. Kids 12 and under are free. Parking is not included. Discounted tickets can be purchased online at clevelandboatshow.com.

Show hours are: Thursday, Jan. 16, noon-9 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 17, noon-10 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Monday, Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Day), 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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