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Biggest-ever ICAST ‘by far’

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Attendees swarmed displays such as this one from Yeti Coolers.

Attendees swarmed displays such as this one from Yeti Coolers.

The 57th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., this summer, drew a record 11,000 registered attendees, 480 exhibitors and 1,000 media representatives.

“This is by far the biggest show we’ve ever had. There’s always a high energy level, and the sheer large number of people this year added to the excitement,” says American Sportfishing Association communications director Mary Jane Williamson. “From everyone I have talked to, it was a great show.”

This was the second year that ICAST (July 14-18), which the sportfishing association produces, and the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, have co-located. They were held in Las Vegas last year; the 2015 shows will be in Orlando again.

Last year, only about 1,300 booths were occupied, Williamson says. The increase is partly attributable to the combination of exhibitors from the two associations. “I think the co-location of the show helps,” she says. “Buyers and media have one show to go to — one-stop shopping.”

ICAST has been attracting a more diverse group of exhibitors, with increases in participation from the apparel and boating segments. “We’ve got L.L. Bean here this year,” she says.

The New Product Showcase is the No. 1 reason buyers and media attend the show, according to Williamson. At the showcase unveiling, they got a chance to vote for the ICAST best-of-show awards. (The Predator XL kayak by Johnson Outdoors Watercraft was voted best product in the boat category and overall best of show.)


On the first full day of the convention about 600 members of the fishing and marine industries packed a hall at the convention center for the State of the Industry Breakfast. Florida Gov. Rick Scott made an appearance, and his remarks reinforced the state’s huge impact on the fishing industry. “The fishing population is rebounding … and we’re trying to convince the government that red snapper is important to the state of Florida,” he said. Scott was referring to red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico and the shortened 2014 season.

The fishing and boating community expressed collective disappointment after a saltwater fishing bill in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to address the community’s chief concerns. A reauthorization bill for the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — the primary law governing U.S. marine fisheries management — did not include many of the top priorities of the recreational saltwater fishing industry.

The keynote speaker was ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso, who focused on his personal background and experiences in his speech. He joked about some of his tough times as a college coach at Indiana University and the team’s overall losing record, but he also shared a personal story. “I got my first break in this world when Indiana fired me,” he says. “They fired me — and in the newspaper. That hurt me. It hurt my family — my kids. They were crying in school. It was devastating. I was 47 years old. But I learned a valuable lesson — that 95 percent of your true friends live under the same roof as you do. It was a helluva lesson to learn. That’s why you can never do enough for your loved ones.”

Corso told me after the speech that he is an avid bass fisherman. “Oh yeah, fishing is one of my favorite things to do,” says Corso, who is in his 70s and is still an analyst on ESPN. “I do a lot of backyard fishing.”

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Frank Peterson delivered some news: A new report shows that interest in recreational fishing spiked last year, with 4.1 million newcomers to the sport — a substantial increase from the 3.5 million average new anglers per year between 2007 and 2012. The numbers were especially high among female and Hispanic anglers.

“We have some very good numbers to present,” Peterson says. “We see that 4.1 million people fished for the first time in 2013, and more interestingly … 42 percent of that 4.1 million were female. “We also grew fishing participation among our Hispanic Americans. A key statistic is that Hispanic fishermen fish five more days, on average, than a non-Hispanic fishermen — almost 25 days a year.”

This stand of colorful hair skirts for lures made for an eye-catching part of one display at ICAST.

This stand of colorful hair skirts for lures made for an eye-catching part of one display at ICAST.

The 2014 Special Report on Fishing, released at the event, was done by the RBFF in partnership with the Outdoor Foundation.

In other news, the ASA asked guests at the breakfast to congratulate Doug Olander, who received the Professional Outdoor Media Association and American Sportfishing Association’s Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award. Olander is an outdoor writer, conservation advocate and editor-in-chief of Sport Fishing magazine.

Olander says he believes everyone has a desire to fish. The desire may be dormant, but it exists, he says. “We really need to go fishing,” he says. “I think we were born to fish. The problem is that our sport is under siege like it never has been before. It is something we need to guard against and be aware of. That is really what I try to do as a fishing journalist.”

Lower-cost electronics for small-boat owners

Electronics manufacturers Navico and Raymarine pushed out lower-cost products at ICAST that they expect will attract a larger share of the fishing boat market.

“We’re making these technologies available to the masses who may have never had them before,” says Gordon Sprouse, marketing director for Navico, which owns the Lowrance, Simrad and B&G brands. The company introduced its Lowrance Outboard Pilot and Lowrance Elite-3x color sonar/fishfinder module at ICAST.

With its 3.5-inch screen and 320-by-240 resolution, the Elite-3x hits the market at a $99 price point. I checked out the unit at the Lowrance booth. It delivers sharp images, and the user interface seems intuitive. Menus are easy to operate, and the unit comes with a quick-release bracket and transducer with a power cord.

The Lowrance Outboard Pilot, which is for single-outboard boats under 30 feet, is $999 for hydraulic systems. The autopilot features Lowrance Smart Steer control for HDS Gen2 or HDS Gen2 Touch displays. The company also says its MotorGuide Xi5 with Pinpoint GPS can be linked to either of the Gen2 displays.

I also checked out the new Raymarine CP200 SideVision sonar. Raymarine global product manager Adam Murphy showed me what the unit can do. It works with dual independent oversized transducer pods. “The larger the [transducer unit], the sharper the image,” Murphy says. “The transducer [pods] are independently adjustable and can be positioned in three different positions for three different angle views, depending on depth of water. And it can present images out to 600 feet to either side of the boat.”

With Raymarine’s aSeries 9-inch MFD, Murphy showed me images of a wreck at the bottom of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. The CP200 is $609.99, which includes the sonar module and transducer.

Best of show

Here are the winners of the ICAST best of show awards in the various categories:

Here are the winners of the ICAST best of show awards in the various categories:

Overall best of show: Johnson Outdoors Watercraft

Product: Predator XL

Freshwater rod: Duckett Fishing

Product: Micro Magic Pro

Saltwater rod: Shimano American Corp.

Product: Terez Stand Up

Fly-fishing rod: G. Loomis

Product: PRO4x Short Stix

Freshwater reel: Pure Fishing

Product: Abu-Revo Beast

Saltwater reel: Pure Fishing

Product: PENN Battle II spinning

Fly-fishing reel: 3-TAND

Product: TF-70 sealed fly reel

Hard lure: SPRO Corp.

Product: BBZ-1 Rat

Soft lure: Okuma Fishing Tackle Corp.

Product: Savage Gear 3D PVC Crab

Lifestyle apparel: Pelagic

Product: 4TEK Fish Finder Boardshort

Technical apparel: STORMR

Product: Fusion Bib

Boating accessory: Johnson Outdoors

Product: Minn Kota Ulterra trolling motor

Boats: Johnson Outdoors Watercraft

Product: Predator XL

Combo: Lew’s Fishing Tackle

Product: American Hero Baitcast Combo

Electronics: Johnson Outdoors

Product: Humminbird ONIX 8SI

Eyewear: Costa

Product: Hamlin 580P mirror lenses

Fishing accessory: Lit-Industries

Product: Lit coolers



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