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Boat and Fishing Expo opens at the Salt Palace

There were big boats, little ones, short ones, round ones, flat ones, very tall ones and very, very expensive ones. There were also funny-shaped skis, big fish, and a few that could unnerve the average fishermen, and a lot of other things that go into making great dreams.

Just another boat/fishing show. This one, the 33rd annual Boat Show and Fishing Expo, opened at the Salt Palace Thursday.In even numbers, exhibitors say more than $10 million in water-related recreational equipment is spread over 250,000 square feet. Boats, of course, are the main attraction. And, the biggest boats seemed to get the most attention.

Off to one side is the offshore, custom racer of Reggie Fountain, the very same high-speed, long-bow boat he set a water speed record of 132 mph. Thirty-two feet long, with twin 525 horsepower engines, it would cost more than $300,000.

For the more sedate boater there's the Carver 37-foot yacht, compete with TV, CD and VCR. Show special is $149,995.

Then, of course, there are the more affordable models, ranging from aluminum fishing to custom bass-fishing boats to family runabouts that cost about the same as a luxury car.

Taking the personal water craft to the next level, Sea-Doo is introducing a water craft/boat for four. It looks like a boat but handles like a personal water craft.

From the toymakers comes a water ski that is following its cousin, the snow ski. It's a parabolic or shaped ski with a wider tip and tale and a narrower waist. Price tag on the Connelly Super-Mid is $319.95.

Not to be forgotten is fishing.

Highlight of this year's show, says Jonathan Greenband, show organizer, is the Live Shark Show. Yes, swimming, eating, live sharks in a 9,000-gallon tank.

This year there are three banks of fishing tour operators that offer trips after a full range of fish from 50-pound lake trout to pan-size grayling.

Lou Marchant, a Salt Laker guiding for the Frontier Fishing Lodge on Great Slave Lake, said fishing up north was as good as it gets last year.

"People gave out long before the fish. Two doctors came up last year and caught 132 lake trout in one day between them. The largest was over 30 pounds, with most in the 15- to 16-pound range," he said.

A good fish story? He presented pictures to prove it.

The show features not only product but also information and actual fishing for the kids. There are clinics and seminars on such topics as fishing in Alaska, to the latest from Flaming Gorge, to how to train your dog. There is also an indoor stream where fly fishing experts are giving demonstrations hourly. And a kids' fishing pond where children can catch and keep up to two rainbow trout each.

The show will run through Sunday.