Friday, July 18, 2014

ICAST review

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, was recently held this past week, July 15th through 18th, in Orlando, Florida. The Event serves two purposes, to bring together manufacturers, distributers and retailers, and to introduce new and current products to the media. ICAST also hosts the New Product Showcase where companies can enter one of many categories to vie for the title of Best New Product.
500,000 square feet of ICAST

This year, over 11,000 attendees visited the event, including close to 1,000 media representatives covering the exhibits and products offered by 480 exhibitors on a show floor that covered 500,000 square feet. “I’ve been coming to ICAST for 20 years,” said ASA Board of Directors Chairman Gregg Wollner, executive vice president of Rapala, “and this is the best show I’ve ever attended. I can’t express how proud I am of the board of directors, the Trade Show committee and the staff for how they pulled together to make this happen.”
The Show Floor

Making up a special section of ICAST’s show floor, the New Product Showcase provides unique visibility for the latest innovations in sportfishing gear and accessories. The submitted products competed in 24 product categories for the “Best of Show” along with the overall “Best of Show” award. This year more than 700 products were entered by 253 exhibiting companies. This year, the Old Town Predator XL was voted by buyers and media as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase Boat category and, ultimately, the overall “Best of Show.”
Larysa Switlyk and Pat Crawford show off Old Town Kayak's Best of Show 

In addition to Old Town, there were many other kayak companies present showing off new and innovative products and accessories. Hobie Kayaks unveiled the incredible Pro Angler Tandem, a 17ft miracle of rotomolding that is definitely more boat than kayak. It features Hobie’s new H-Rail system for attaching accessories with ease. Add two taller Vantage seats and dual Mirage Drives, and Hobie continues their recipe for success. Hobie Fishing Products Manager Morgan Promintz said, “We are very proud of the PA Tandem and think it will fill a niche market”.
Hobie Pro Angler Tandem

Woody Calloway debuted Native Watercraft’s new Slayer Propel 10 kayak, proving that great things come in small packages. At 60lbs, this kayak is light enough to carry down the trail, yet packed with its larger cousins’ features, including Native’s comfortable seating, an improved Propel Drive, and plenty of rigging options with the installed track system. “Our customers told us they wanted something for easier access to tighter areas”, Woody said.
Native Slayer Propel 10

Tactical Angler Crossover Stalker
Tactical Anglers was on hand with new lure offerings. Their TA Crossover Stalker comes in four patterns and will prove to be a best seller. “Reds, snook and trout will absolutely inhale these lures”, announced TA Pro Staffer Butch Newell. Westin, a European company, displayed not yet available, ultra-realistic soft plastic hybrid lures that looked absolutely beautiful. They attended ICAST hoping to find a U.S. distributer before they are available here.
Westin Lures

Flying Fisherman came out with several new designs in their line of affordable polarized glasses. This family owned, Florida based company has made a name for themselves by offering quality fishing eyewear at a fraction of the prices of other name brand competitors. This year, they are expanding their product line to include very high quality travel fishing rods. The Passport travel rods line includes three different sized fly rods and three different sized spinning rods. “These are not the low quality travel rods we have seen in the past. We developed these rods using the finest material and workmanship to offer an excellent adventure travel solution”, Flying Fisherman’s Bobby Vaughn said.
Flying Fisherman

Certainly ICAST has something for everyone. Rods, reels, line, tackle, clothing and accessories. Most of these items are already on store shelves, and the rest will be soon. One thing is for sure, with 1000 media people attending ICAST this year, we will be hearing about it for the next several months!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Short Pineland Report

It was pre-dawn and the air was thick. The dark sky was briefly illuminated periodically from distant lightning. Longtime friend and co-worker, Charlie Vaughn and I were launching his skiff from Pineland Marina for a couple hours of fishing in an area I know well for kayaking.
Typical Pine Island Sunrise

We left the ramp on the tail end of an outgoing tide just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. Edging up to the shallow flats on the outside of Big Jim Creek, I scanned the water’s surface for any sign movement, bait, fish or bird. The water was still and a few long exploratory casts with a Zara Spook Jr produced no interest from anything in the area.
Distant Thunderstorms

We spent the next couple of hours chasing agitated baitfish and feeding birds, producing varying sizes of ladyfish and trout on paddletails. As the tide slowly rose, Charlie brought his Carolina Skiff closer to the miles of mangrove edges that line the many small islands in Pine Island Sound. Around Rat Key we produced some good inshore snapper that Charlie decided to turn into tasty sandwiches.

Heading back to the ramp, I guided Charlie into a small bay where I have caught many Pineland redfish over the years. We slowly moved along the mangroves casting and searching for any sign of life in the increasing heat of the morning. Just at the end of our mangrove line, Charlie’s drag began to sing that song we all love to hear. He very quietly and calmly said “That’s a heavy fish, Bob. This is the one we were looking for”.
Charlie Redfish

After running around the boat several times, the big redfish finally showed signs of tiring. Charlie brought him close enough for me to reach down and land him. The over-slot fish was nice enough to smile for a few pictures, and was released soon thereafter.
Pine Island Stilt Shacks

We decided to end the morning on a high note and head back in. The sun was now baking hot and any semblance of a breeze had disappeared. As usual, Pineland had produced really great fishing and remains a healthy fishery for anyone willing to travel.