WINTER is unquestionably here: Fishing has come to a screeching halt and your boat may soon be buried under a foot of snow.

If you're not careful, you'll end up with cabin fever, known to afflict all of us outdoors people. The symptoms? Severe nausea that is most pronounced when you look out the window and notice another foot of snow has fallen and your spouse insists you shovel the driveway. Cold chills that occur when thoughts drift into your mind of the fun you experienced battling big bluefish last summer. Other symptoms include shortened temper, hysterical crying when watching a TV fishing show and the constant urge to jump in the car and drive south until you see palm trees and white sand.

Fortunately there is a cure for this dreaded disease, short of flying to the Florida Keys: boat and outdoor shows. Beginning the first weekend in January and ending sometime in mid-March, a series of these shows not only will help stave off a severe case of cabin fever, but may also help you find a new boat at a substantial saving. (Buying a new boat is an iron-clad guarantee against cabin fever.) But even if you're not thinking about buying a boat, you'll get a first-hand look at many of the new products on the market.

The New York National Boat Show has been around for over 75 years. This year it's January 9 to 17 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. Despite the distance, this show usually attracts many visitors from the Washington area. (Amtrak is a good way to get to the show since the station is only six blocks from the center.)

Closer to home is the Chesapeake Sport Fishing Show, January 8, 9 and 10, in the Greek Hellenic Center on Riva Road in Annapolis. This show has been held in Annapolis for 11 years and includes a wide variety of fishing tackle and boating supply exhibits. Well-known outdoorsmen will hold seminars about the latest fishing techniques. Admission is $4 for adults and 50 cents for children under age 12. Show times are: 6 to 10 on January 8, 10 to 9 on January 9, and 10 to 6 on January 10. For additional information contact Al Tourney at 301/841-6974.

If you're an enthusiastic bass fisherman, you have two places to see the latest in bass boats and high-tech bass fishing tackle. Bass Expo '88 will be January 15, 16 and 17 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. The show features presentations by many well-known professional bass tournament winners. Admission is $4 for adults, $1 for children 10 to 14, and free for children under 10. For additional information contact Bob Dobart at 301/574-6139.

Bassarama will be returning to the Showplace in Richmond, Virginia, on January 22, 23 and 24 with a great new lineup of guest speakers, exhibitors and bass boats. They also will be giving away many door prizes with a grand prize drawing on the final day of the show for a fully rigged bass boat. Proceeds benefit the Virginia Lung Association. Show hours are 3 to 9:30 January 22, 9 to 9 January 23 and 9 to 5 January 24. For additional information contact Ron Bache at 703/659-6695.

The Eastern Sportfishing and Hunting Show will be January 23 and 24 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. This is the first season for this show, and it is expected to be a comprehensive event combining both hunting and sport fishing. Show hours are 2 to 9 January 23 and 9 to 6 January 24. Admission is $4 for adults and free for children under 12. For additional information contact John Castle at 301/498-2174.

The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, January 30 to February 7 at the Baltimore Convention Center, is always well attended by residents of both Baltimore and Washington. In recent years, the show has expanded to include Festival Hall, which houses boats of all sizes and descriptions. According to show promoter Ray Nichols, there will be a new attraction featuring a model boat exhibit and contest. Show hours are 5 to 10 weekdays, noon to 10 Saturdays and noon to 7 Sundays. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12. For additional information contact Ray Nichols at 301/383-1200 or James Donahue at 301/252-1167.

For those interested in fishing activities in Delaware Bay, the Delaware Sport Fishing Show will be January 29, 30 and 31 at the Nur Temple in New Castle, Delaware. Fishing guides and charter captains will provide first-hand information on fishing in the area. Guest speakers will show you exactly how, where and when you can hook up with those big weakfish at several well-known Delaware Bay hot spots. Show hours are 6 to 10 January 29, 10 to 6 January 30 and 31. Admission is $3 for adults and 50 cents for children under 12. For additional information contact Al Tourney at 301/841-6974.

The Washington Boat Show held annually in the D.C. Convention Center will be February 3 to 7. This show will feature virtually every type of boat and marine accessory. If you're looking for a new boat and not quite sure what you're looking for, be sure to catch this one -- you'll definitely find the right one here. Show hours are noon to 10 on weekdays, 11 to 10 February 6 and 11 to 7 on February 7. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and under. For additional information call 703/569-7141.

The 50-year-old Philadelphia Boat Show will be in the Philadelphia Civic Center January 30 to February 7. The show will feature more than 600 boats of all sizes and descriptions and hundreds of exhibits of marine and fishing accessories. Show hours are 5 to 10 weekdays, 11 to 10 February 6 and 11 to 7 February 7. Admission is $6 for adults and $2 for children under 12.

Also taking place on January 30 is the Sportsman's Flea Market, Used Boat and RV Show. The one-day event will be held 9 to 6 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12. For additional information contact John Castle at 301/498-2174.

The annual Mid Atlantic Boat Show at the Pavilion in Virginia Beach, Virginia, will host hundreds of boats ranging from rubber rafts to huge ocean-going cruisers from February 6 to 14. This is a great show for those who want to get away to a resort town emptied of huge crowds. Most of the better restaurants are still open, and the night life can be exciting. Show hours are noon to 7 Sundays, 10 to 10 Saturdays and 5 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays. Admission is $4 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. For additional information contact John Taylor at 804/446-2046.

Another great show taking place in a resort town is the Seaside Boat Show at the Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. The show takes up both floors of the center and has a vast display of boats and marine accessories. Many of the exhibits here pertain to offshore fishing for exotic species such as marlin and tuna. The event is 4 to 9 February 12, 10 to 9 February 13 and 10 to 6 February 14. For additional information contact Worthy Graham at 301/289-8773.

The third Maryland Sportfishing and Hunting Expo will feature every aspect of fishing and hunting for the outdoor enthusiast. Several speakers will demonstrate successful techniques for turkey calling, archery and fishing. The event is in the Pikesville, Maryland National Guard Armory. Show hours are 6 to 10 February 19 and 10 to 7 on February 20 and 21. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12 when accompianied by an adult. For additional information contact Al Tourney at 301/841-6974.

Sportfishing '88 was traditionally held in Ocean City, Maryland, until last year when it moved to its new location at the Salisbury Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland. The show features several well-known speakers and lots of exhibits on fishing, hunting and boating. The show will be 5 to 9 on March 4, 10 to 10 on March 5 and 10 to 6 on March 6. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12. For additional information contact Chet Tinsman at 301/641-1664.

The final show of the season is another newcomer to the Washington area. The second D.C. National Boat Show will be held from March 9 through 13 at the D.C. Armory Starplex. The show will feature hundreds of boats ranging from small dinghies to luxury yachts. Show promoter Ray Nichols says this year's show will be larger with more boats and marine accessories. Show hours are 12 to 10 daily, except noon to 7 on March 13. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children under age 12. For additional information call James Donahue at 301/252-1167.

By the time you've completed the entire boat and outdoor show circuit, you'll either be a raving maniac, reduced to poverty or, at the very least, rid of cabin fever.