Daily Limit: British invasion at ICAST

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Mike Suchan
Rob Carter, Mel Bagnall and Anthony Hawkswell of Angler International magazine out of England have become a familiar sight at ICAST.

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the 1960s, rock ‘n’ roll bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones created a British Invasion. At ICAST, the Brits invaded about 10 years ago in the form of a team from Angler International magazine.

Daily Limit was introduced to the contingent from Peterborough, which is about an hour north of London, at Tuesday night’s New Product Showcase, dully forewarned of their imbibing capabilities. Mel Bagnall, the consultant editor, served as interpreter for a crew that included editorial director Rob Carter, and editor Anthony Hawkswell, who doubles as drinking captain.

With the fun they appeared to be having, one wonders how they get any work done. Apparently just fine, thank you, Bagnall said, as their foray into America has been a smashing success.

“We launched the magazine 10, 11 years ago,” Bagnall said. “ICAST is the biggest show in the world – we have to be here.”

But breaking into the fishing industry in the United States wasn’t that easy. The magazine hails itself as the independent global tackle trade magazine, reporting on the business happenings of the industry. The magazine now sends out 10,000 copies a month directly to companies and has a strong online presence, including a newsletter every “fortnight” (that’s two weeks).

“It was very hard to do” at the beginning, Bagnall said. “We were walking down the aisles. Nobody knew us. We were like standing on the perimeter of the booths, ‘Do we go in? Who do we talk to?’ It was very scary.

“Now, if I try to walk across the show one end to another, it might take me an hour because everybody knows us. We get on great.”

American Stuart Pavlik works out of Florida as marketing director, but his drinking needs work, as does Carter’s, Bagnall said. Asking if Carter was the crew’s top drinker was met with an emphatic no.

“No, he’s hopeless,” Bagnall said. Hawkswell “is a strange character. Very odd, but he drinks like a machine.”

Speaking of machines, B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin has been interviewed for Angling International reports. The crew said having a strong presence at ICAST certainly helps them keep a pulse on the industry,

“We get an awful lot of content, but we do an awful lot of business, selling advertising in the magazine,” Bagnall said. “It’s kind of a double whammy. The American industry needs to get to know you and trust you, but when they buy into you, they’re very loyal. It’s all about trust at the end of the day.”

And then a cold one … maybe warmed a touch for the Brits. John Mazurkiewicz of Catalyst Marketing has known the group for years now. He’s even visited European tackle shows, where he discovered happy hour starts about the time the showroom floor opens.

So, who would you take in a drinking contest, England or America?

Mazurkiewicz conceded quickly. Bagnall paused though, contemplating the proper seriousness of the query.

“Drinking? I don’t think you stand any chance,” he said.

While it’s been hot in England, Bagnall comes to America the week before ICAST to visit family and get acclimated to the heat and humidity … and the beer.

“I have to let the beer warm up a little bit, but then I drink it very quickly,” he said.

Cheerio, blokes!

Change in Overall Best of Show voting

The 2018 New Product Showcase got under way with a new format to choose the Overall Best of Show, ASA president Glenn Hughes said as he opened ICAST 2018.

There are 25 categories, like Best of Show Freshwater Reel or Best of Show Hard Lure, and the media and buyers look over the 950 or so entries and vote on which ones they believe are the best. 

“Before, the one item that got the most votes won Overall Best of Show,” Hughes said. “Now, all the Best of Show winners will be put on a ballot for the Overall. It gives those 25 companies an even shot.”

Mike Bailey, New Product Showcase coordinator, was busy setting up Tuesday afternoon. He was finding his task of putting out all the entries easier because of another change.

“There’s a whole new process for registering products. It’s totally electronic now,” he said. “It allows the exhibitor to enter products online and basically create a product identification card. The old way was somewhat archaic. We needed to go digital. Processing in a digital format also allows for redundancy and backup.”

The companies had until June 1 to submit their entries. Voting continues until Wednesday afternoon then the Best of Show Awards are presented during a reception that evening. The Overall Best of Show will be awarded Thursday.