On Monday, I got to do something I’ve never done — I fished offshore in 160 feet of water. I caught grouper, red snapper and amberjack. While it was a lot of fun, it was also hard work — especially that amberjack.
That’s how ICAST week is for me. It’s definitely an enjoyable break from the demanding schedule of competitive fishing and there’s plenty of fun and enjoyable elements, but this is primarily a work week for me.
I’ve found that, as my career moves forward, I’ve become more and more involved in the business side of things and, for me, that’s what ICAST is all about. I’ll be there all day Wednesday and Thursday, but I had sales meetings and business meetings all of Tuesday. Once the show begins, the majority of my time, I’m booked with one sponsor or another.
There are some people I see once a year, and it’s important for me to spend time with them and make sure everything is good. But I also have people I interact with more frequently, and we’ll meet during the show and discuss new product development. ICAST introduces all the new gear that’s released in 2018 and early 2019, but my meetings will address designs we’re working on for next year, and even multiple years down the road.
That’s why it’s so important for me to maintain these close relationships with my sponsors. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that I’ve enjoyed developing. My sponsors look to me for practical insight on the developmental and testing aspects, so we’ll be covering a lot of those topics this week.
As far as 2018 introductions, I’m really excited about what my sponsors are bringing to ICAST. I think last year was kind of an average year, as far as numbers, but this time, we have a lot of new items. From the Garmin Panoptix LiveScope that’s been out for a few weeks, to several items from Booyah and others, this is going to be a great year for consumers.
Part of my time at ICAST will be devoted to doing the videos for all of these new releases. This is an enjoyable experience for me because I’m learning a lot about these products, too.
For example, I just got my Panoptix LiveScope before the Elite tournament on Lake Oahe, so there are a lot of questions that people ask me that I’m still learning. But this is what ICAST is all about; it’s getting all these new tools in our hands and then figuring out how we can use them to catch more fish.
As I prepare for this, it really makes me think about how much I appreciate the relationships I’ve formed. Every year, a lot of guys go to ICAST looking to make new sponsor relationships, but I’ve made mine and I’m good.
This week is my opportunity to strengthen the bonds with my sponsors, so I’m looking forward to working with them. But I’m sure I’ll have some fun along the way.
Hopefully, it won’t leave me as sore as that amberjack did.