When was the last time you were out fishing or hunting and stopped to ask yourself, "What am I doing wrong?" Admit it: There have been times when you haven't had all the answers.
And probably there will be times when you will face another befuddling situation.
Over the next several weeks, a number of hunting and fishing shows are on the calendar in our area, and at each there are opportunities to learn more about problematic situations and how to overcome the problems.
On Friday, the Bass Expo opens a three-day run at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium, and Bob Dobart, a top regional bass fisherman and a former touring professional, has put together an impressive list of teachers for the schedule of seminars that is free to anyone who purchases a ticket to the show:
* David Fritts, who won the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic last August in Alabama and placed third in the pro-am on the Potomac River last fall, will give three seminars on the use of the crankbait, the lure that made him the hottest bass pro around the last half of last season.
* Guido Hibdon, B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year in 1990 and 1991 and winner of the Classic in 1988, will teach his techniques for fishing clear water with light tackle.
* Woo Daves of Virginia, who has done especially well in tournaments on the James River and the Potomac, will teach his techniques for fishing tidal water.
* Randy Romig of Pennsylvania, who did very well in the Classic when it was based out of Dundee Creek a couple of years ago, will lead a session on how best to work waters that have been heavily fished.
Mark Kovach is scheduled to lead seminars on fly fishing the upper Potomac; Bill Kramer of Gaithersburg, a top performer on the tidal Potomac, will teach sessions on how to fish the river from Washington to Mattawoman Creek; and touring pro Paul Elias, Greg South of Richmond, Va., regional guide Glenn Peacock and Jay Holt also will lead sessions.
In each case, seminars include question-and-answer sessions.
If saltwater fishing is more to your liking, perhaps it would be better to look ahead to Feb. 5, when Salt Water Sportsman magazine brings its National Sportfishing Seminar to the University of Maryland campus in College Park. This is a top-rate, one-day seminar that has been tailored to inshore and offshore possibilities in our area.
The regional experts who will teach are Capt. Butch Tawes of Crisfield, Capt. Richard Novotny of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, Bruce McGuigan, a tuna and white marlin authority, Capt. Glenn James, who fishes out of Solomons and Annapolis, and Capt. George McCullough of Ocean City.
Their topics include chunking and chumming for bluefish, light-tackle surface techniques for bluefish, live baiting striped bass, secrets of fishing the Choptank River, new angles for catching sea trout, finding and catching mid-Atlantic makos, trolling and chunking tricks that catch yellowfin and bluefin tuna, white marlin made quick and easy and how to catch fish when they are not feeding.
The workshop also includes presentations by national experts Mark Sosin, George Poveromo and Rip Cunningham.
Mitch Roffer, an international expert on water surface temperature breaks, will lead a session on how to find and use temperature breaks to catch fish.
Instruction will include what techniques worked best last year, what areas were the best producers and the best locations to catch the instructor's specialty fish.
The cost of the seminar is $35, which works to $5 per hour for some of the best advice available. Tickets can be ordered using credit cards by calling (800) 448-7360.
On Jan. 28, the Mid-Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Show opens a three-day run at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium with a scope that goes well beyond that of the Bass Expo. The Mid-Atlantic show can take you from Lake Ontario to the Outer Banks in a series of hourly seminars on a variety of hunting and fishing topics:
* Dave Outhout, hunting guide, operator of a white-tail deer farm and manufacturer of deer lures and scents, will speak about calls and scents and how they are best used while hunting.
* Brad Vosburgh, a member of the National Muzzle Loading Association, will teach beginner and advanced techniques for black powder shooting.
* Ron Johnson, owner of Mountain Hollow Game Calls, will lead sessions on turkey calling, and Gene Abelow, owner of Foxy Pheasant Hunting Preserve, will demonstrate the German Short Hair Pointer.
* Capt. Eric Burnley will lecture on fishing for bluefish, stripers, spanish and king mackerel at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel complex, and Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournaments, will speak on fishing for tautog and cobia in the lower bay.
Sessions on bottom fishing for flounder, fly tying, rod building, fly casting, surf fishing the Outer Banks and shark fishing off Ocean City also are scheduled.
The Mid-Atlantic Show also will feature sessions on cooking, archery, birds of prey, reptiles and salmon fishing on Lake Ontario.
So, you have found the places to get a few answers to your questions of how and when to hunt or fish, but now you need a way to get into the woods on onto the water.
The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show opens a nine-day run on Jan. 29, complete with boats and equipment to suit any angler's needs and a few experts of its own to answer any leftover questions.
The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, held at the Baltimore Convention Center, is foremost a great place to search for and buy a boat -- and boat show demonstrators often can be bought at spectacular savings.
But in addition to a great selection of boats and gear, show organizers again have put together a respectable group of speakers to lead workshops on fishing and water skiing.
Cliff Craft, a six-time qualifier for the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic, will lead sessions on proper selection of bass fishing gear and how to best present lures in different situations.
Novotny of the MSSA, Mark Hoos of Bowers Marine and Don Sky of Ranger Boats also will preside over fresh and saltwater fishing seminars. Scot Ellis, national record holder in the men's jump, will discuss techniques and tips for beginner and intermediate water skiers.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Bass Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Cow Palace in Timonium. Largest collection of bass boats and fishing gear in the Northeast. Seminars given by bass pros David Fritts, Guido Hibdon, Paul Elias, Woo Daves, Randy Romig and Greg South. Bassmaster/Rubbermaid CastingKids competition, with registration at the show. Show opens at 2 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 10 to 14. Those under 10 will be admitted free.
Saturday, Sunday: Fly Fishing Book and Tackle Fair, Penn Harris Hotel and Convention Center, Camp Hill, Pa. Call (800) 848-1020.
Jan. 28, 29, 30: Mid-Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Show, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. Largest and best hunting and fishing show in Maryland, with hundreds of exhibitors, including hunting equipment, fishing gear, guides and charter services for ocean, bay, Great Lakes and freshwater fishermen, hunting guides and outfitters, hunting preserves and lodges, taxidermists, sportsmen and environmental organizations, etc. Seminars on striped bass fishing, deer hunting, fly casting, shark fishing, surf fishing, wildlife and birds of prey, turkey calling, game cooking, cobia fishing, black powder shooting and bow hunting. Show opens at 1 p.m. on Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children from 10 to 14. Those under 10 will be admitted free.
Jan. 29-Feb. 6: Chesapeake Bay Boat Show at the Baltimore Convention Center. Hundreds of boats as well as marine engine and boating accessories will be on display. Seminars on bass fishing by six-time Bass Masters Classic qualifier Cliff Craft, on bay and saltwater fishing by Mark Hoos of Bowers Marine, Don Sky of Ranger Boats and Richard Novotny of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, and water skiing by Scot Ellis, national record holder in the men's jump. The show opens at 11 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 5 p.m. on weekdays. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children under 12.
Feb. 5: National Sportfishing Seminar, sponsored by Salt Water Sportsman magazine, University of Maryland, College Park. Seven hours of top-notch instruction on techniques for inshore and offshore species -- chunking and chumming for bluefish, light tackle techniques for bluefish, live baiting stripers, refined striper trolling, secrets to fishing the Choptank River, as well as sessions on mako, marlin, sea trout, yellow fin and bluefin tuna and how to better use electronics and gear to catch more fish. The fee for the course is $35, which includes a comprehensive textbook, "Salt Water Sportfishing Techniques." Classes run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, call (800) 448-7360.
Feb. 5-13: Eastern Sports, Boat, Camping, Travel and Outdoors Show, State Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, Pa. Call (800) 525-7585.