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.
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.
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.
In keeping with their ICAST tradition, Duckett Fishing has introduced two new lines of rods for bass anglers.
It's always interesting to see who's at ICAST. Hanging out at the booth next to ours (B.A.S.S.) is none other than largemouth bass world record holder Manabu Kurita. I speak almost no Japanese, and Kurita speaks no English at all, but we've met several times before, and I was fortunate enough to help break the story of his record catch three years ago, so I offer a "Genke des ka?" (How are you?) every morning, and he replies with a "Genke des?" (I'm well."). We are bridging the cultural gap. Bass are bound by no language!
At one of the largest sportfishing trade shows in the country, setting your company apart from the other industry leaders is almost as important as the products you bring. With hundreds of exhibitors representing the best in the industry, the show can be a maze of products and people. Some booths are outrageously creative and immediately draw your eye and your interest. From sand pits and saloons to fish fry demonstrations, the imagination knows no bounds.