Four days of new boats and marine gadgets highlighted the 52nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show October 28-31.

If you didn’t make it to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS), Florida Sportsman was there to cover new boats and gear from some of your favorite fishing companies. A surprising number of boat builders were not showing off their 2012 models, but they said to expect big changes in the Florida boating market for the new year.

There seemed to be varying philosophies among boat builders at the show. Some of the monster offshore center-console boat-makers continued to rig even more horsepower to already awesomely-fast boats. Other companies brought to market reasonably priced models that can compete with used-boat prices. Whatever your choosing, all price ranges, speeds, lengths, hulls and weights were available at the FLIBS. One continued trend is a noticeable move of established offshore center console companies expanding to the inshore market. For 2012, expect to see even more offshore makers producing models for the bay boat arena.

Outside, at the Bahia Mar marina, super-yachts with tenders larger than most inshore fishing boats took up most of the slip space. Still, fishermen, pleasure boaters and Budweiser girls mixed together for a pleasant show experience. Inside, at the convention center, booths were slim, but there’s always that new company with a product that makes you do a double-take. Here are some highlights from the show:

Scout Boats displays its 177 Series of boats, expected to make a splash in 2012. Four different models in the group utilize the same hull with different rigging configurations. Base price for the Sport 177: $19,995.

Guess who this is? This 36-footer from Yellowfin was built for the Texas Highway Patrol. Yes, that’s correct, highway patrol. Direct center of the photo are a pair of machine guns, plus check out the bow hardware. Features include triple Mercury 4-strokes (not in photo) and suspension seating for rough, go-fast runs.

Aeon Marine introduced its brand new 24 XP. The curves of this unique bay boat are unmistakable and scream “speed.” At the stern, a wide open rear deck with a bit of tilt. Of note, Aeon Marine now produces all Beavertail skiffs.

The ClikPack from Seahead is completely waterproof to 85 feet of water. Store your phone, keys or boat registration in a dry compartment. Wade fishermen or personal watercraft users can utilize the belt feature that straps the pack to the person’s waist.

The C180 from Pursuit Boats rests at the Bahia Mar marina. Pursuit launched its inshore series this year, which includes three different bay boats measuring 18, 20 and 23 feet in length.

Jason and crew from Catch O-SEA-D show off their latest fishing and boating wear. O-SEA-D is based out of South Florida and it shows in their lobster, sportfish and scenic designs.

Another crowd pleaser at the show, the Contender 30 ST. Features include a step hull, 24.5 degree dee-vee and beam measuring 9 feet, 6 inches. The performance specs are not available yet, but you can bet they’ll be up to Contender’s standards.

K2 Marine’s Blackjack 224 turned some heads with its 22-foot length, 8-foot, 3-inch beam and Carolina flare. A cucumber color hull in a sea of white doesn’t hurt, either. Bill and Gary Kenner, of Kenner boats, are the builders behind the Blackjack.

SeaSucker can mount just about anything to your boat without drilling a hole. At the show, EPIRBs, Ipads (pictured), cameras and Iphones all had their own mounts.

That’s the business end of Statement’s 37 SUV. Pull up the bench seat to reveal a pair of Mercury TDI 4.2 diesel engines that each rate 350 horsepower. This boat competed in the Bermuda Challenge, a 760-mile run from New York City to Bermuda with no stops.

Aqua Design, from Idaho, seems to have a feel for salt water. Rippled designs like aqua sky, green bayou and pacific sky look cool and help camouflage your clothing from game and fish. Pictured, a sun mask for hunters.

Mercury marine introduced this brand new 4-stroke 150 hp outboard at the show. They didn’t re-invent the wheel; they just tried to make it bulletproof. Expect more on this 150-hp in an upcoming issue of Florida Sportsman.

Unique fishing lodges come to the boat show, too. Fishing was at the show for the first time with new clothing lines for male and female anglers. If you don’t know, Nosara, Costa Rica is home to world-class bluewater sport fishing close to port.

Near the boat show, West Marine announced its newest Fort Lauderdale location opening at the end of the year. The 50,000-square-foot flagship store will be twice as big as the company’s current largest store. It’s loaded with fishing tackle and boating gear, and even caters to the pleasure boaters that flock to Fort Lauderdale.


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