ORLANDO, Fla. — The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades is wrapping up today with a record number of attendees — 15,000 — and exhibitors reporting robust sales activity during the high-energy four-day show.
“The show is going great. There’s been tremendous foot traffic from all over the country and internationally,” Glenn Hughes, vice president of industry relations for the American Sportfishing Association, told Trade Only Today this morning. “Exhibitors and buyers are happy, and some are saying it has been their best show ever.”
Tim Mossberg is one of those happy exhibitors.
“I have seen a dramatic increase in the quality and the quantity of interest over the past few years, and it’s really peaking this year,” said Mossberg, president of Fish Monkey Gloves. “We’re a brand-new company with a brand-new product. So we had to be here, and it’s going very well.”
ICAST is the largest sportfishing show in the world. The show has gained momentum since the Great Recession, smashing attendance records every year.
The American Sportfishing Association, which produces the show, was hoping for 14,000 attendees, but exceeded that mark by 1,000. Last year, the event drew 1,250.
This was the fourth year that ICAST has been held in conjunction with the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.
It was the first year that ICAST organizers worked with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, hosting the NMMA Marine Accessories Pavilion, which featured 40 exhibitors of marine aftermarket products. There are 700 exhibitors overall, including the new marine exhibitors and the fly tackle exhibitors. ICAST accounts for 552 of those exhibitors.
This year the show covered 650,000 gross square feet of floor space — up from 350,000 since 2011.
As the show has gotten more popular, exhibitors have expanded their display spaces. Case in point: Lil’ Anglers LLC, which carries Kid Casters and Steinhauser Tangle-Free Rods, shared a booth with another company in 2013, said CEO Ralph Duda III.
“We just didn’t have the money, but wanted to be there,” he said.
In 2014 Lil’ Anglers moved into a 20-by-10-foot space, and then a 30-by-20-foot space in 2015. This year, the company has two booths — a 50-by-20-foot space and a 20-by-20-foot space.
When Trade Only talked to Duda he was darting between the two booths, busy closing deals with retailers such as Gander Mountain and Scheels Sports.
“It has been very busy, very successful so far,” he said.