Every year, vendors from around the world and more than 15,000 individuals converge on Orlando, Florida for the largest sportfishing industry’s trade show in the world. The event is closed to the public, but working for the organization that puts on the event, I was able to attend my first show, representing the American Sportfishing Association’s advocacy campaign, Keep America Fishing (KAF). Like a kid in a candy store, ICAST encapsulates the dreams of every angler.
The grassroots organization has given me the opportunity to attend policy affairs meetings with some of the brightest minds in the fishing world and the Bassmaster Classic earlier this year, but ICAST was the most eye-opening endeavor: companies you have envied, professionals you have watched on TV, and the New Product Showcase, a competition that fuels product sales, Youtube videos, Tackle Warehouse releases, and in the latest issues of Bassmaster and FLW magazines.
This year, my personal goal was to help increase awareness of ICAST while bringing attention to the association and its social media accounts. It has been a great honor to increase the spotlight on the most innovative and exclusive fishing show.
Understanding all technological platforms, the audience, and encouraging engagement has been an ongoing learning process. As a first step in this endeavor, I helped to bring The Bass University to the show, one of the most well recognized companies in bass fishing education. Co-founded by B.A.S.S. Elite Series angler Mike Iaconelli and Open pro Pete Glusek, the group is known for bringing in the hottest pros and techniques from both leading circuits.
Over the three days of the show, Bass University recorded more than twenty hours of free, live web shows, including a look at new product showcase winners, interviews with pros, and even five conservation oriented interviews including my discussion of Keep America Fishing’s Pitch It campaign.
In 2014, the state of Maine introduced legislation that would ban the use of soft plastic lures for fishing. The unscientific reasoning was based on a few trout that upon inspection had soft plastic baits in their stomachs. As is normal in the animal welfare realm, specific environmental groups took outrage in the matter, and left KAF with the duty to defend the recreational fishing community, and ensure that similar legislation would never happen again. Thus, the Pledge To Pitch It is an opportunity for all anglers to show their stewardship efforts to the angling community, agreeing to dispose soft plastics in the trash or designated soft plastic recycling canisters after each and every day on the water.
Join me in taking this important pledge, ensuring the future of soft plastics in bass fishing, at PledgeToPitchIt.org. As always, feel free to send you comments in the submission field below. I look forward to answering any questions and help each and every reader to get involved in this great program.
The show far exceeded my expectation, and is certainly an experience of a lifetime. I was able to converse with some of the best anglers in the world, including Kevin van Dam, Mike Iaconelli, Keith Poche, Justin Lucas and more. Star struck is an easy way to put it. Products that aren’t even on the market yet opened the mind to creativity and design. Over a month later and I still do not think I have fully taken in the experience
The event is a reminder that hard work and dreams do come true for whatever field you pursue. Who would have thought that starting a college fishing club almost ten years ago would lead me into the industry? As the dream continues to grow, I look forward to seeing where this will go.