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Steve Merlo

Rain or shine, the 37th annual Sportsman's Boat, RV and Outdoor Show opens today at the Kern County Fairgrounds for a three-day run. Despite meteorologist claims of rain trying to dampen things (I'll believe it when I see it), promoters have taken the possibility of rain into account and made arrangements.

Once again, the mobile bass bin will be on hand as well as the Berkley-sponsored kids' trout pond. The dog training folks and their pooches will ooh and awe spectators, and the tractor pull, car show and sand drags will be the best in years.

Professional outdoorsmen and women will be on hand to give seminars on fishing, hunting and fly fishing. I've even been asked to give some seminars on crappie and jig fishing at the show's outdoor theater, so come on out and we'll show and explain the latest in catch-em quick techniques.

The show is also the place to book a quality fishing trip to Alaska, Mexico, Canada or wherever one might have a hankering to travel for the trip of their lives. Hey, if it's rain you're worrying about, don a raincoat and come on out and have a great time or just stay inside the massive buildings and take part in whatever's going on at the time.

The Tulare Basin Wetlands Association, one of the premier waterfowl and wildlife- habitat-creating organizations in the Pacific Flyway, will hold its 18th annual fundraiser at the Bakersfield Elks Lodge at 6 p.m. March 7. Founded to further the cause of wetlands conservation and habitat enhancement in Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, the association pushes camaraderie and unity with other conservationist groups and hunting clubs. Doors open at 6, with hosted cocktails and a quality steak dinner at 7:30. Raffles and auctions for quality guns, artwork, decoys and other outdoor gear will highlight the evening. Contact Bryan Porter (661) 706-7453, Cecil Zimmerman (661) 805-6568, or Jim Delmarter (661) 327-1486 for more information on this worthy cause.

MS Society shoot

It's not too late to sign up for the "Beating MS since '09, One Step at a Time" sporting clay shoot at the Kern County Gun Club on March 15. Great prizes, good food and a fun day will make this a memorable fundraiser for the National MS Society. Monies earned will be used to continue the fight against Multiple Sclerosis, locally and nationally. Contact Chanel Prince (661) 699-9533 or Darrin Armstrong (661) 565-4041.

Isabella crappie moving shoreward

Finally, crappie fishermen are finding excellent action on slab-sided crappie at many different locations in Isabella Lake, including some much-improved shore action. The fish are moving steadily shoreward on their annual spawning run and are hitting live minnows and jigs in the 8- to 12-foot zones. Boat launching remains tough for all but 4X4 vehicles, but expected rains should improve the problem over the next few weeks when water levels rise.

G. Loomis rods

Long noted as one of the finest series of fishing rods ever made, "G. Loomis, Inc." will return to the 2014 market with the emphasis on IMX rods, rather than their more expensive GLX rods. The IMX rods will be much lighter than earlier models and will come out in some newer versions. My favorite, the SJ720-IMX spinning rod, will continue to be high on the list of preferred light tackle rods for the everyday fisherman. While Loomis rods are expensive, they are, as far as I am concerned, the highest quality and best fishing rods ever built.

BV catfish

The unusual run of huge channel and blue catfish continues this week at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area. Both Webb and Evans have been kicking out some decent size whiskerfish in the 6- to-15-pound mark as the big females begin stirring for their annual pre-spawn mode. (I know this because my friends and I have been catching them nearly every time we venture out to the little lakes on the prairie.)

Crappie fishermen are also catching some nice slabs around the rocks and tules in both lakes, but the run is mainly for males guarding nests in very shallow waters. Bass fishermen have switched over to Lake Evans, where a lot of fish are being caught on visible beds while trout fishermen continue to snare some decent rainbows out of the lake's west end.

APW shoot

The Association of Petroleum Wives is hosting early signups for its 12th annual sporting clay shoot March 28 at the Kern County Gun Club. Monies raised will benefit their 2013 and 2014 charities, including Wounded Heroes Fund, J.J. Legacy and the Kern County Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Contact Arlene (661) 333-3208 for more information.