ICAST fishing-tackle show highlights great gear; industry releases stats on fresh- and saltwater fishing
Each July, I'm grateful for the Las Vegas Convention Center. Two reasons:
1. It keeps me coolly protected from Vegas' sweltering, 100-plus-degree desert summer.
2. It harbors one of the world's most impressive fishing-tackle trade shows: the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades - ICAST.
While ICAST occasionally relocates to places like Orlando, it's Las Vegas that serves as primary host. And so it served again last week, July 13-16.
Vegas, a town that boasts perennial hope, helped the tackle industry shine in what might be considered its most challenging times. My co-workers and I from Sport Fishing saw multiple new products for 2011, and even some new companies emerged. (See photo gallery links at the end of this blog and pick up the November/December issue of Sport Fishing magazine, available in mid-October.)
Granted, more new freshwater-fishing products debuted at this show, but then freshwater angling dwarfs saltwater angling. In a report released at ICAST, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation showed that of 48 million anglers in the United States, 41 million participated in freshwater fishing in 2009, up 2 percent from the previous year (though overall fishing participation was still down slightly from 2008).
Within that same pool of 48 million anglers, 12.3 million fished in salt water. Yes, there's crossover - folks who say they fish both fresh and salt water - but the sheer number of freshwater anglers is staggering. Of course, look at how many rivers, creeks, streams, lakes and reservoirs there are throughout the country compared with miles of coastline.
Still, those of us who fish salt water certainly feel we're every bit as prominent as those bass and walleye folks. But we have some work to do. The RBFF study shows we're predominately 45-year-old-plus white males from the South Atlantic region. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it means our sport faces limited growth unless we reach out to youth, women and minorities in areas outside of Florida and the Southeast.
(Note: Freshwater fishing attracts more women and more participants under 45 - though neither comes close to a majority - but fewer non-caucasians. Its top region is the East North Central/Great Lakes.)
So take every opportunity you find to encourage young people, women and minority friends to try fishing. Take them fishing. Help them learn the sport. Hey, forward them the new-product photo gallery links below, and get them signed up for the Sport Fishing enewsletter (www.sportfishingmag.com - enter email address in the upper-right corner), SF's Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/sportfishing) and any/every other avenue to grow their excitement. Spread the fun and help the sport!
RBFF 2010 Special Report on Fishing and Boating:
ICAST photo galleries: