From exhibitors to buyers to outdoor media, 9,000 representatives from the global sportfishing community converged on the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., July 11-13, for the world's largest sportfishing trade show. The 55th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), represents the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, driving sportfishing companies' product sales year round and is the showcase for the latest innovations in gear and accessories.
"The last time we were in Orlando it was 2009," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "Despite an ailing economy, we had a good show. But this year, we had a great show. Show attendance, overall, is up 23 percent and buyer attendance is up 25 percent. We had 9,000 show attendees with more than 3,000 buyers and more than 760 media in attendance to cover the show."
Nussman further said, "ICAST is our industry's show. It's very important to us that we create the show that the industry wants. Based on their input, we expanded the business seminars, improved our attendee promotion and simplified the show hours. Our commitment to our member exhibitors, media and all show attendees is to listen and improve this show in any and every way we can. We look forward to seeing everyone next year for ICAST 2013 being held July 10-12, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas."
This year, Jessie Allen, general manager for the Orange County Convention Center, presented a proclamation to ASA on behalf of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs that declared the week of July 8 as ICAST Week. Allen presented this during the annual State of the Industry Breakfast where 600 industry members heard about some of the challenges facing recreational fishing and the progress being made regarding the industry's angler advocacy campaign, KeepAmericaFishing.
"Breakfast attendees were also regaled with stories from our special guest speaker, legendary men's basketball coach, Bob Knight," said Nussman. "An avid angler himself, he kept a smile on everyone's face and helped set the stage for a great opening day."
Jeff Marble, ASA's Chairman of the Board, and CEO, Frabill, Inc., had this to say about the show and business in general. "Business is healthy. Retailers are very upbeat and looking towards the future. I heard many positive comments about the show. There is also a positive feeling about ASA's leadership, the Board of Directors and the Show Committee. We will always have challenges, but we feel confident about the future."
Dave Bulthuis, vice president of Sales for Costa and the ICAST Show Committee chairman, also said he was hearing great comments about the show. "Orlando does seem to be a good show location and there is a lot of enthusiasm about our show's future. We will bring that enthusiasm and momentum with us to Las Vegas in 2013."
ICAST Director Ken Andres echoed everyone's comments. "We saw great attendance this year with lots of product on display on the show floor. Our aim is to continually enhance the show for the benefit of our exhibitors, buyers, media and other attendees who now view the show as a "must attend" industry event. We look forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas in 2013."
KeepAmericaFishing, the industry's angler advocacy campaign, which launched during ICAST 2010, has seen significant growth in its angler member base and a big uptick in support from pro anglers across the board. "KeepAmericaFishing has seen great growth over the past two years and anglers are having a positive impact on issues that affect their ability to enjoy a day on the water," said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson.
Robertson further said, "We now have more than 20 pros on board who are doing their part to urge anglers to become KeepAmericaFishing members and supporters. During the show, they taped a series of video messages in support of our effort and we can't thank them enough for their time, their energy and their support. We also thank Bob Knight for taping a message for us urging anglers to do everything they can to preserve our fishing heritage."
2012 ICAST Show Sponsors
ASA would like to thank its generous members who signed on as ICAST sponsors. Our ICAST 2012 sponsors are: Gold sponsors - Crocodile Bay Resort; Fishing Tackle Retailer; Frabill, Inc.; NBC Sports Network; Outdoor Channel; Take Me Fishing™; and WFN: World Fishing Network. Silver sponsors – Dave Mercer's Facts of Fishing; Gemini Custom Apparel; In-Fisherman; Koppers Fishing & Tackle Corp.; North American Fisherman; and Simms Fishing Products. Bronze sponsors - Bass Minder; Classic Fishing Products; Columbia Sportswear; Tackle Webs; and Stormr.
The New Product Showcase "Best of Show" Awards
Making up a special section of ICAST's 375,000-square-foot show floor, the New Product Showcase provides unique visibility for the latest innovations in sportfishing gear and accessories. The submitted products compete in the "Best of Show" competition where buyers and media members judge each new product.
This year Hobie Cat's Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 was voted by buyers and media as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2012 New Product Showcase in both the Boat category and the overall "Best of Show."
This year, the Showcase included 21 categories, as well as the overall "Best of Show" award. ASA also added a new category – FishSmart Tackle – to recognize gear and tackle that helps improve the survivability of fish. The Seaqualizer won the award in its inaugural year.
2012 ICAST New Product Showcase Award Winners
—Source: American Sportfishing Association