We followed Kevin VanDam a bit this afternoon, and it may sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but wow does he draw a crowd. Despite this being a show closed to the public, there were autograph seekers at nearly every turn. One thing I was impressed with was that he was always friendly and willing to pose for a photo or sign something. It must take a lot of patience to be KVD...
Mustad pro staffer Tom Booth shows off a 31/0 circle hook that is for real. You use it to catch great white sharks. It weighs 14 pounds, costs $350 and is hand made. Not exactly a drop shot hook.
What B.A.S.S. has done for catch-and-release in bass fishing, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) wants to do for offshore saltwater fishing.
“It’s amazing how much bass tackle is in this room,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman, referring to the halls of the ICAST tackle show in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. “Why? Because of healthy bass fisheries.” He credited the promotion of catch-and-release bass fishing by B.A.S.S. and its Bassmaster tournaments for recycling so many sportfish in freshwater. “Without that, much of that tackle wouldn’t be here.”
Now is the time to spread that ethic to fishing for deep water species in saltwater, he said.
To inspire manufacturers to create new tools for the healthy release of snapper, grouper and other game fish of the deep, ASA has launched the new FishSmart program, which recognizes products that help saltwater fish survive upon release.
Nussman said a similar program in Australia resulted in an increase in fish survival of 20 to 50 percent.
The first to earn a FishSmart tackle award is The Seaqualizer, developed by Florida-based Finovation Inc. The device combats barotrauma, which occurs when a fish is brought up from deep water and its swim bladder is unable to deflate enough for the fish to return to the deep. The Seaqualizer is clipped to the mouth of the fish, which is lowered on a fishing line to a preset depth, where the clips are released.
A trip to ICAST will undoubtedly spark the need to begin a running Christmas list almost five months in advance. At the top of my list -- a paddleboard.
Imagine fishing on one of those: It's just you, a small tacklebag, rod and paddle. On a paddleboard, you're closer to the water than ever. It requires skill, balance and precise movements to reel in a lunker while standing on a board. Bote has an excellent display of paddle boards here at ICAST (be sure to check out Bote's booth in the ICAST booth photo gallery) that will literally change the way people fish. Surprisingly, it includes all of the necessary essentials: rods holders, drink holders, paddle clips and coolers.
Also, Wild River has some has introduced a line of soft tacklebags good enough for the top spot on anyone's Christmas list. I love the Nomad lighted backpack because it has all the features you could ever need, an integreated LED light, special storage compartments for sunglasses, tools and accesories. It also holds up to 10 various size storage trays. Not to mention, it's so good-looking.
If only Santa could make the trek to sunny Orlando and visit ICAST this year, everyone could take a seat on his lap and put in personal requests.
Ray Domingo was busily sketching away in the BigFin booth, creating another underwater masterpiece. The St. Petersburg, Fla., resident has been designing apparel for BigFin for a year and a half, and his designs are displayed on new ladies' shirts.
Domingo said he has been asked all his life what his favorite painting is, and his answer has always been "all of them." But he said he's changed his tune in recent weeks. Now when asked, he says his favorite painting is "the next one."
I found Travis Manson at the Flippin' the Bird booth grabbing a snack. The Bird in question is a hollow topwater bait that is similar to a frog, but has little wings made of the same rubber strands as most frog legs.
Anthony Broad is an artist first and foremost. But he's also a fisherman, and now, with his company Fish Skinz Apparel, he gets to combine his two passions.
Broad, of Titusville, Fla., has been designing T-Shirts, hats and decals for four years, but all for saltwater. This year, he's branching into freshwater, with bass, musky, crappie and walleye designs.
Here, he's holding the new bass decal in front of a shirt that bears his original Fish Skinz design.
I found Jonathon VanDam in the Strike King booth (naturally) and he was willing to model the new Strike King SG-S1162 shades and hold up the KVD Dream Shot drop shot bait, which earned him $100,000 at the Green Bay Elite Series event.
Humminbird's 360 Imaging won the Best of Show in the electronics category, thanks to the system's unique 360 degree sweeping pattern which shows you not only what's on either side of you, but in front and behind as well. This is the transducer that mounts on the back of your boat.
Russ Lane (with wife Jill) is excited about Sunline's Sx1 braid and Finesse FC fluorocarbon. The braid is super smooth, and the fluorocarbon is said to be one of the limpest on the market.