Mark your calendars and celebrate the momentous 70th Anniversary of the Fred Hall Shows. Visit Fred Hall Long Beach Show on March 2-6 and Fred Hall San Diego Show on March 17-20, 2016.
- Ram Ultimate Air Dogs will return!
- Kid’s Trout Fish free!
- Information packed seminars!
BD is announcing their upcoming Fred Hall 2016 Digital Show Guide, a new tradition among these historic show events. The guide includes show specials, cool articles, featured products and much more.
Stay tuned for more information. You won’t want to miss it! “Save the dates!”
Fred Hall, the P. T. Barnum of Sport Fishing
Fred Hall conceived the idea of developing a sportsmen’s show when he was only 22 years old. It was at the end of World War II. Hall was offered a job as head usher by Mel Morrison, owner of Crowd Management, Inc., a company that staffed sporting events. Their client list included the Rams, Dodgers, Olympic Auditorium, Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Ice Follies, Ice Capades and others throughout Southern California; it was here that Hall’s idea for a sportsmen’s show began. The concept grew, and after many discussions with Morrison, it took shape.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1920s, Hall’s family migrated to Miami when he was still a youngster.
The waters surrounding Miami became his playground and he developed an interest in fishing.
As a teen, he caught pompano and lobster, which he carefully loaded into a little red wagon filled with saltwater, and delivered his fresh catch to Little Joe’s Restaurant. The money he earned was a welcome addition to the Hall family finances.
Fred had dreamed of swimming in the Pacific Ocean, but at age 14, when his family actually moved to Santa Monica, Calif., he was shocked and disappointed to learn that it was freezing cold compared to the warm waters that he had left behind.
He entered the sports program at Belmont High School where he was awarded a scholarship to Loyola University, but an injured shoulder during his first year required that he transfer to Occidental College. There, he participated in basketball, water polo and was on the diving team. When the football coach noticed Hall’s size and skill, he encouraged him to try out for the team. Hall was accepted and played football for two years.
Because of sports-related injuries, Hall was unable to join the military; instead he volunteered in the Army Air Corp as a Celestial Navigation and Theory Flight Instructor.
Fred met Lois Bartlett, a beautiful young skater in the show, while working at Shipstad and Johnson’s Ice Follies at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. They fell in love and in 1944, they married and began their family which included their children, Bart, Kristi and Rick, and a number of grandchildren.
Lois and Fred shared a mutual passion for fishing, so the new venture was one they could also share. With Lois at his side, Fred became the pioneer promoter of fishing shows and his first sport’s show opened in 1946 at the Gilmore Stadium near Fairfax and Third Streets in Los Angeles, which later became the home of CBS. Gilmore Stadium was also used as an older midget-racing, dirt track stadium with a grass infield and electrical poles everywhere. Hall’s brainstorm was to cover all the poles with bark and pine boughs and sprinkle green-dyed sawdust on the ground. The woodsy-effect was perfect until the rain came; large green puddles of water nearly ruined everyone’s shoes and socks.
Several years later, the show moved to the Pan Pacific Auditorium, then on to the LA Sports Arena and then to the Great Western Fairgrounds in the city of Industry. In 1978, the focus of the show changed, and it became a Fishing Tackle and Boat Show and moved into the Long Beach Convention Center. When the Convention Center was enlarged, the show claimed the title as the largest consumer fishing show in the world.
Hall’s constant efforts to improve his events accounted for the shows’ success.
He added fishing seminars featuring famous speakers, fresh and saltwater mobile aquariums, state of the art fishing boats, and more than 200 exhibitor booths offering exotic trips to fish and hunt around the world. His shows have become social events that can’t be missed! He not only built what has been called the largest consumer fishing show in the world but he has also built the longest-running fishing and hunting show on the planet.
Fred believed that the key to the future of sport fishing was the youth, and children under 12 years of age were admitted free when accompanied by an adult. He convinced tackle manufacturers to provide tackle and fishing clubs to provide fishing instructors who were willing to teach the kids how to fish.
Over the years, more than 500,000 boys and girls have learned to fish at Hall-produced shows.
Hall was the consummate showman who never missed an opportunity. No stunt was too outrageous. He thought nothing of hiring a woman to parachute from a small plane. Once landed, she removed her jump suit – clad only in a bikini swim suit – she cut the ribbon to open the show.
His “make lemonade out of a lemon” attitude often bubbled to the surface. Once, when the underpass next to the show flooded, covering all the cars stranded in it, he took one of the outboard-powered aluminum boats displayed in the show, launched it in the flooded underpass, and placed buoys to mark the submerged cars.
Jim Paulk, Past President of United Anglers of Southern California, tells the story of the battle against gillnets by UASC and Doris Allen, the first female speaker of the California Assembly. In 1990, they were campaigning for signatures to put Prop 132 on the ballot, banning the use of gill-nets in the near-shore waters. Other sport shows had refused to allow them to gather signatures at their events, but Hall welcomed them. They captured 300,000 signatures and Prop 132 was ultimately passed. When asked why, his answer was succinct. “Our California Coast resources couldn’t afford for us not to!”
In 1999, Hall and his son, Bart, entered a partnership with American Sport Fishing Association donating 50% of the proceeds from Fred Hall Shows to a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and propagation of sport fishing.
Fred passed away on March 4, 2000. Ironically, it was the largest attendance day to that point. Throughout the day, people would stop Bart, offering their condolences and telling their own “Fred” story. Over and over they repeated, “We just came in today to honor your father.”
Bart, who has followed in his father’s footsteps, still feels the presence of his father in each of the shows, as does many of the longtime attendees. It’s hard not to.
Always the showman, Fred Hall introduced and influenced countless thousands of men, women and children to sport fishing, and through his efforts sport fishing has been improved for generations to come.
The Hall Family and their Team have continued on in Fred’s footsteps. Today, the gate lines stretch around the building, and each year they seem to grow longer; the aisles are crowded and attendees and exhibitors greet each other like long-lost friends, because they are.
Laughter, chatter and stories of the best fish, largest fish and toughest fish flood the hall chocked full of camaraderie. As you and your friends check out everything from the best fishing lure to use, to the dream trip of lifetime.