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Cold? Head inside to the Sportmen’s Expo this weekend

By: J.D. Richy Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Well, it finally looks like we are getting some rain this weekend… which is obviously much needed in these parts! And for our first weekend that is probably better suited for hanging indoors, we have the International Sportsmen’s Exposition rumbling into Cal Expo for its annual appearance. Of course, there will be all the usual cool stuff — fishing, hunting, boats and the weekend Youth Fair, plus RV’s, hunting dog exhibitions and more. Also, there’s a wide array of seminars you can attend. Underwater view As usual, I’ll be in the California Sportsmen’s Theatre presenting at the show. This year, I’m going to show a bunch of underwater video I’ve been shooting. It all started with me wondering what the heck things look like below the surface… well, here’s your chance to find out! I have footage of salmon bites and trout misses; A view from the inside of a bait ball at Lake Berryessa; Underwater trolling scenes and what your gear looks like down there; A trip to 100 feet down to the bottom of Lake Tahoe… you’d be surprised what you’ll see! I’ll also present a look at what salmon lures look like under the surface…and much more. Plus, the fine folks at Yakima Bait have given me a box of new Hawg Nose and Mag Lip Flatfish salmon lures to give out each day. Freebies… yea! I will be showing the underwater stuff today at 3 p.m. and again on Saturday at 6 p.m. With the 49ers in the NFC title game, I’m glad to not be doing one on Sunday! Alabama rig banned by B.A.S.S. By now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Alabama Rig — the umbrella style outfit that consists of a weighted head with three to five wire leaders trailing behind to which soft plastic swimbaits or other plastics are attached. The thing looks like a big school of baitfish on the end of your line (I have underwater video of it in my seminar). It, of course, took the bassing world by storm in October when professional angler Paula Elias absolutely smashed the field at a big tournament at Lake Guntersville. Since then, it’s been the hottest thing going in the bass industry, with a zillion companies selling the things like hotcakes. Not surprisingly, such a deadly rig also comes with controversy and many folks have argued that, in major tournament fishing, it takes the skill out of the equation. Some of my bass friends say that a rank amateur could “accidentally” win a tournament with one of these things without having the foggiest notion of what he was doing. Well, the rules committee of B.A.S.S. agreed. According to Bassmaster.com: “Rules Committee members believe the rig eliminates some of the skill that should be required in tournament competition at the highest level.” And so, as of Feb. 1, anglers fishing in B.A.S.S. Elite series tournaments and the Bassmaster Classic will be restricted to one lure. “The Alabama Rig has become enormously popular in recent months, and it has definitely had an impact on the tournaments in which it has been used,” says Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director. “Personally, I have enjoyed catching bass on umbrella rigs and found them to be very effective in some situations. I have witnessed first-hand the excitement this technique has generated in our sport. “However, the Elite Series Rules Committee members unanimously asked to be held to a higher standard,” he added. “We have decided to honor their recommendation.” Local Angler wins “Hawg Bowl” Local fishing stud and familiar face about town, Adam Baker (his family owns Awful Annie’s in old Auburn) just won the “Hawg Bowl,” which is an online big fish contest. Each month, readers submit photos of their catches and then the general public gets to vote for their favorite. The 12 monthly winners go head to head in the Hawg Bowl Playoffs and then the top contenders battle it out in the championship. Baker’s winning fish was an absolutely perfect 45-pound king salmon that he caught in the Sacramento River in October. He faced some stiff competition, however, from a beautifully colored and very large steelhead taken by Laura Rogers in the Clearwater River in Idaho. In the end, Baker emerged victorious and won a fishing trip for two with prominent Northwest guide Bill “Swanny” Swann of Swanny’s Fishing. You can see the pics of Adam’s fish at www.fishwithjd.com.