Industry leaders reach out to each other at ASA summit

By John Mazurkiewicz

While the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trade Show (ICAST) held each July is the highlight event for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the recreational fishing industry’s body continues to dedicate substantial efforts to its annual Sportfishing Summit.

At one time more of a social event for tackle manufacturer owners and senior management, the ASA Summit today is all about business and industry issues.

It brings together nearly every segment of the sportfishing industry. Attendees now include company CEOs joined by their sales, marketing and conservation/advocacy executives, manufacturer sales representatives, retailers and distributors, fishing and outdoor media companies, staff from various US state and federal fisheries agencies, plus a lengthy list of conservation and allied organisations that focus on various aspects of the fishing industry.

While ICAST is where the fishing world gathers to see and talk about new products, the ASA Summit is where the leaders, movers and shakers of the US recreational fishing business gather to work together all for the same cause – ASA efforts that impact them all to grow the sport along with addressing critical issues impacting recreational fishing.


Making an impact

“At our 2022 summit, we gathered the business side of our sport to provide a forum where our members were informed about the fishing industry workplace of the future, projections about the US economy and its impact on our trade, what ASA’s Government Affairs team is doing to address fisheries policy issues, and developing strategies for next year and beyond,” said ASA president Glenn Hughes.

“Along with conducting the business affairs of our association’s operations, the summit includes important committee meetings focusing on our ICAST show, government affairs, membership, marketing and communications, our efforts with industry data and statistics, and dealing with trade and commerce issues.

“Those committee members play an important by being ASA’s voice to their various customer bases, where they can reach millions about fisheries issues that affect them and what ASA is doing to positively have a role in the decision process.”

 Hughes notes the 2022 event was attended by more the 200 sportfishing industry leaders presenting 115 different companies.

And, as had happened in the past where US senators and congressmen, Cabinet secretaries and federal agency chief administrators have been in attendance, both US Congressman Garrett Graves from Louisiana and Janet Coit, assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Services, visited with summit attendees

“The Summit provides no better place where our government officials can talk with sportfishing industry leaders to help them better understand their journey being involved in the fishing industry both personally and for their respective businesses,” said Hughes. 

Attendee Reactions

Attending his first ASA Sportfishing Summit, American Tackle Company’s marketing manager Kevin Landers came back to his office more than pleased with the experience and noted the interaction he had with other attendees will benefit him both in his role with American Tackle but also in his own career growth.

“At American Tackle, our senior management has a solid history of supporting the efforts of ASA, and attending the summit allowed me to me to do my part,” he said.

“From, being welcomed by the ASA stuff as a newcomer to the event, to the well-planned and educational seminars, to having open conversations with high-level thinkers from our industry at the various breakfasts and lunches, it was time well-spent. I can’t see myself missing an ASA Summit in the future.”

Landers noted that, while ICAST has an all-business and competitiveness to it, the summit allows many of those same competitors to have free-flowing discussion about issues and ideas that will benefit the whole of the sportfishing industry.

Daiwa’s regional sales manager Greg Johnson has attended the past three in-person ASA Summits (like the ICAST Show in 2020, the ASA Summit also pivoted to an online event), always with a personal goal to introduce himself to a new contact in the business and learn something about them and their journey through the sportfishing industry.

“Professionally, the Summit offers me the opportunity to engage in and learn about real life industry topics,” Johnson said, “especially those movements that directly affect the business of some of our most important customers, which for me are our independent tackle dealers in my East Coast and Midwest territories.”

Educating and engaging himself in the humanistic things that can both threaten and improve the recreational fishing industry is his key benefit from attending the summit, notes Johnson.

“It provides an additional layer and sense of pride in our daily life in being a liaison to my network of industry contacts, friends, family and fellow recreational anglers in telling them about the positive efforts ASA makes in fishery management and clean water legislation, programs to grow the sport, and the outstanding job they do with the ICAST show.”


Summit 2023

While the 200-plus attendees at the 2022 summit surpassed 2021 figures, the ASA staff is hoping to see pre-Covid attendance numbers exceeding 250.

“We will continue our goal to enhance the educational, information gathering and networking opportunities to the Summit,” said ASA member relations manager Robert Russel.

“With the Hilton Sandestin Resort in the Florida Panhandle being the Summit destination next October 3rd to 6th, we want all ASA member to know they can contribute to the success of the sportfishing industry by attending, and also can look forward to some great fishing opportunities in the area.”

Russel notes the 2022 summit was successful thanks to the generous support from the US Forest Service, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board, Engel Coolers, Fin-Nor and Freeman Companies.

For information the 2023 ASA Sportfishing Summit, reach out to Robert at [email protected].