The Story Behind the Houston Fishing Show
Among the many hobbies in this world people tend to obsess over the most, fishing should be on the top of everyone’s list. Think about it. Fishing is something you can do with friends or family, even by yourself. It’s a relaxing way to unwind, and with everything going on in life, you can have fun in the open air capitalizing on the addictive rush of catching something.
The Annual Houston Fishing Show will once again take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Anglers from across the country, even as far as Alaska, flock to the show annually, knowing it doesn’t get any better than this.
A Proud History of Tradition
Houston Fishing Show Founder, David Holder
The annual show first opened up its doors in H-town back in 1975 when founder David Holder, an avid outdoorsman, saw a need in the industry for fans and tradesmen to meet up with one another. Native Houstonians might even remember the Albert Thomas Convention Center, which is where the show was originally held. According to those who have been around since the beginning, the show started small and quickly turned into one of the largest that can be found anywhere.
About 30 years ago, current co-owner Cindy Martindale worked for Holder when he was a fish and tackle rep. For the past 15 years, Cindy’s husband Donald (who goes by Don) also became involved, handing the press and politics of the show while Cindy deals with the nitty-gritty of their various contracts.
Despite the ballooning size of the show and the national appeal that pulls vendors and attendees from far and wide, they’ve stayed true to the city of Houston, ignoring many attempts to get them to move the show elsewhere.
The Passing of the Torch
Houston Fishing Show Co-Owners, Don & Cindy Martindale
In October of 2020, founder David Holder passed away rather suddenly following a brief battle with cancer. For the record, there doesn’t seem to be a single acquaintance of Holder’s who doesn’t feel like one of his family members and recall him as such.
Don and Cindy were stunned, to say the least, and Holder’s family knew it was his wish for the annual event to keep taking place. They requested Don and Cindy make it carry on as it had been for nearly half a century. Chief operational duties passed to the married couple, and they vowed to continue on David Holder’s legacy.
Despite the pandemic, safety-first measures have been put into place at this year’s event, providing a safe environment that adheres to all regulations from both the city and county.
A Fun-Filled Family Event
“It’s got everything to do with fishing,” Don says of what makes the show so successful each year. “It’s also a family thing. Kids get to test actual rods and win prizes and giveaways like fishing rods.”
One of the challenges Don and Cindy have not only embraced but succeeded at is generating interest in children.
“We’re really trying to cater to big families to get together,” Cindy says. “We want the younger crowd to learn how to fish so they can continue on.”
Of the thousands of recreational fishers who attend each year, it’s hard to pinpoint the average show-goer. From families to loners, the show is for all age groups, from inexperienced kids just starting out to the seen-it-all elderly.
“We try to have something for everybody,” Don says. “It’s almost like a family reunion that’s become a tradition. People have come for years and still look forward to coming back every year.”
“There’s new stuff every year,” Cindy adds. “New products they expect to see at the show. People that fish want to come see what’s new and they want to see their friends. It’s a one-stop shop. Everything is there so it’s basically a good way to see what’s going on.”
Why So Many People Come Back Every Year
Whether casual or advanced, fishers can’t seem to get enough of the latest and greatest equipment hitting the market every spring. Without fail, every major fishing brand has experts there each year to give detailed instructions on what new offerings have recently been introduced to the fishing world.
There are also hourly seminars for guests to attend, and on Saturday and Sunday these panels occur every 45 minutes. Looking for insider tips on freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, fly fishing, offshore fishing, or even specific topics like how to catch bigmouth bass on lakes? What about area-specific discussions and techniques, focusing on Texas hot spots like Port O’Connor, Matagorda, Lake Conroe, and many more?
“A lot of people come several days in a row just to hear all of the different topics,” Cindy says.
46 Years and Going Strong as Ever
As times change and people’s interests wander in different directions, it’s difficult to carry on anything in this world for an extended period of time, yet the Houston Fishing Show only seems to keep on growing year after year.
“It’s just a fun family event for people of all ages that men, women, and kids enjoy,” Don says.
The Annual Houston Fishing Show will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center
(12-9 pm Wednesday through Friday, 10am-7pm Saturday, and 10am-6pm Sunday).