ICAST 2020 Online shows trade's resilience

Buyers, media, exhibitors and other representatives from the global sportfishing industry brought ICAST 2020 Online to life from July 13th to 17th, during the sport’s first-ever virtual trade show. For the first time, with the online venue, the angling public also had the opportunity to participate in the event.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic ICAST, the world’s largest recreational fishing trade show, transitioned from an Orlando-based, in-person show to a virtual event with ICAST 2020 Online. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the show’s producer, committed to delivering attendees and exhibitors alike an engaging, interactive virtual trade show experience, presented by TakeMeFishing.org.

“Despite having to transition to an online event, tens of thousands of visitors came to ICAST 2020 Online to see the latest and greatest in tackle, gear, accessories, apparel and watercraft,” said ASA President Glenn Hughes. “Whether in person or online, ICAST is, and always will be, the cornerstone venue that unites our industry. My heartfelt thanks go to all our member exhibitors for their commitment to our association and our industry.”

“Working against a short timeframe and never having done this before, the American Sportfishing Association held ICAST,” said Chris Megan, publisher, On The Water, LLC, and ASA’s board chairman. “Although it wasn’t the ICAST we wanted, it was the ICAST we could deliver, and boy, did we ever deliver!”

Megan further said, “I couldn’t be prouder of the entire ASA team for the virtual ICAST Show they presented this week. With the help of our sponsors and those businesses that stepped up to participate, especially RBFF as our 2020 presenting sponsor, we made it happen. My sincere thanks go to each one of you.”

“ICAST Online has been a really unique experience,” said Jesse Simpkins, marketing director for St. Croix of Park Falls and ASA’s board vice chairman. “It had its challenges and yet, as we all know, anglers are resilient, tenacious and willing to find a solution. The ASA staff embodied that sprit as they quickly focused on what needed to be done to organize and launch a virtual event.”

Simpkins noted, “From the opening remarks to the broad and varied business and conservation seminars there was a vast array of ways for industry members, and the entire recreational fishing community, to be engaged. You just had to make yourself available.”

“I’m am gratified to see how many of our industry members stepped up to help make this year’s virtual trade show a success” said Travis Owens, vice president of Sport Sales Costa/Native Eyewear, and Trade Show Committee chairman. “From the New Product Showcase to the dozens of live, interactive online events for buyers and media, the incredible amount of creativity and enthusiasm that defines ICAST was, once again, on full display this year.”

New Product Showcase “Best of Category” and “Best of Show” Award Winners
Johnson Outdoors Watercraft and its Old Town Sportsman Autopilot took home Best of Show in the ICAST 2020 Online New Product Showcase. The innovative watercraft was selected from the 30 Best of Category winners which took top honours in the Boats and Watercraft category.

“We are excited and grateful to the sportfishing community for choosing the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot watercraft as ICAST 2020 Online Best of Show winner, said Sharon Scott, senior director, Brand Management & Product Development, Johnson Outdoors Watercraft. “Johnson Outdoors Watercraft is committed to finding the most innovative ways to help people enjoy fishing and life on the water. It is humbling to see the validation of the great work our people are doing every day. Thank you to everyone who voted.”

Winners were selected by credentialed buyers and media from around the world who vote for the best of the new product entries.

For ICAST 2020 Online, ­­­­­­434 new products were entered by more than 180 companies and the New Product Showcase was sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer/Decode.

“Our congratulations go to all of this year’s New Product Showcase winners and all the companies that entered products in the showcase,” said Trade Show and Membership Vice President Blake Swango. “Despite the circumstances, they forged ahead, embodying the ingenuity and innovative spirit that exists within our industry.”

The awards’ presentations are available on ICASTfishing.org.

Looking Towards 2021
In conclusion, Megan and Simpkins offered their views for 2021.

Simpkins said, “While I know that we are all looking forward to being in Orlando in 2021, we have a real opportunity as an association and industry to take away some meaningful lessons from this virtual show that can help us improve our show and business efforts.”

Megan concluded, “God willing, we will all be back under one roof next year and once again come together to celebrate the sport and industry that we all love.”

Access to ICAST 2020 Online, along with business and conservation seminars, will remain accessible through the ICAST website until December 2020.