ORLANDO, Fla. — The 57th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades got off to a fast start Tuesday night with media members bursting through the doors to check out the New Product Showcase.
“I am very excited,” American Sportfishing Association communications director Mary Jane Williamson said. “This is by far the biggest show we’ve ever had.”
This is the second year that ICAST, which the sportfishing association produces, and the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, have co-located the two trade shows. The show was held in Las Vegas last year; the 2015 show will be held in Orlando again.
Williamson said there are 10,040 registered conferees for the four-day event this year. There are 480 exhibitors in nearly 1,600 show booths.
Last year, only about 1,300 booths were occupied, she said. The increase is partly attributable to the combination of exhibitors from the two associations. “I think the co-location of the show helps,” Williamson said. “Buyers and media have one show to go to — one-stop shopping.”
And 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 said.
The New Product Showcase is the No. 1 reason buyers and media attend the show, according to Williamson. At the showcase unveiling, media and buyers got a chance to vote for the ICAST Best of Show awards.
This morning, about 600 members of the fishing and marine industries packed a hall at the Orange County 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 recreational fishing and boating community has expressed collective disappointment after a saltwater fishing bill in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to address the community’s top priorities. 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.
ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso was the keynote speaker and he stuck to his personal background and experiences in his 21-minute speech. He joked about some of his tough times as a college coach at Indiana University and its overall losing record, but he also shared a personal story.
ESPN analyst Lee Corso used personal experience to drive home his point during the keynote speech Wednesday morning at ICAST.
"I got my first break in this world when Indiana fired me,” he said. “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 is 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,” said Corso, who is in his 70s and still an analyst on ESPN. “I do a lot of backyard fishing.”
In other news, the ASA asked the 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 Tuesday night. Olander is an outdoor writer, conservation advocate and editor in chief of Sport Fishing magazine.
Doug Olander, an outdoor writer, conservation advocate and editor-in-chief of Sport Fishing magazine, received last night the Professional Outdoor Media Association and the American Sportfishing Association’s Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award.
Olander said he believes everyone has a desire to fish. The desire may be dormant, but it exists, he said.
"We really need to go fishing," he said. "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."