Recreational fishing’s future continues to look bright, as the industry’s largest trade show, ICAST, returned to form last week. In total, more than 12,000 exhibitors, buyers and media converged on the Orange County Convention Center to showcase the widest array of fishing gear, tackle, accessories and apparel
available in one location. ICAST is produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), a national,
non-profit trade association made up of more than 800 member companies and organizations who share a stake in promoting sportfishing for community and commerce.
“The show was fantastic,” said ASA President Glenn Hughes. “The show exceeded our expectations, and most importantly exceeded exhibitors’ expectations. Everyone I spoke with said how wonderful the show was and how the energy is as good as it has ever been. The fishing tackle industry is alive and well and looking strong for the future.”
“When you think about it, the fishing industry is born out of ideas,” said ASA Chairman of the Board Jesse Simpkins, VP of Marketing, St. Croix Rod. “At ICAST, there are new products and new ideas at every booth. This is the best place to showcase them. Most of the major retailers already have meetings set up with the
big guys when they come here. But they’re also looking for that 10×10 booth that may have a unique product they can blow up into the next multimillion dollar seller.”
“This year, 73 countries were represented at ICAST as well as all 50 states and Puerto Rico,” said ASA’s Trade Show and Membership VP Blake Swango. “The show floor was very busy this year, with exhibitors reporting back-to-back meetings and shoulder-to-shoulder attendance at their booths.”
It was a brand-new idea born from a 10×10 booth that became the signature story of this year’s show, as a first-time exhibitor won “Best of Show” at the New Product Showcase.
The 565 exhibitors at this year’s ICAST entered more than 900 new products into the show’s revered New Product Showcase for a chance to be recognized with a “Best of Category” and ultimately the “Best of Show” honor. And while 30 category winners took home a prestigious prize as the top product in their class, newcomer PacBak stole the show by taking home its top prize. In a field of competition
featuring some of the most recognizable brands in fishing, the ICAST 2022 “Best of Show” winner came from an Alaskan startup with a story for the ages.
After persevering through personal trauma and homelessness, PacBak founder Brian McKinnon focused his energy on creating a one-of-a-kind cooler and sealer system to help anglers keep their catch fresh in the backcountry.
“We are brand new,” said McKinnon. “We are still on Kickstarter right. One of the retailers we talked to told us we needed to come down to check out ICAST. Now, we are getting so much press and interest. We couldn’t have done that without ICAST.”
All New Product Showcase entries are available for viewing on the ICAST website and on the ICAST app for Apple and Android devices.
Last Friday, ICAST doors opened to high school fishing clubs affiliated with Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. to give them an inside look at the business side of sportfishing.
Designed to showcase job opportunities within the fishing industry, ASA’s partnership with the two largest grassroots bass fishing organizations on the planet was designed to show the young anglers that there are careers in sales, marketing, tech, product development and logistics in the sportfishing industry.
ICAST 2023 will be held in the North/South Building at the Orange County Convention Center July 11-14, 2023.