Surprising seminar series delivers eye-opening lessons

ICAST Lunch & Learn has become a can’t-miss resource for staying on top of changing trends in the business of recreational fishing.

The countdown to sportfishing’s largest trade show is well under way. Registration is open, booths are being designed and reservations are already being made for ICAST 2024, presented by the American Sportfishing Association.

And, while a village of fishing tackle filled with thousands of new products remains the irresistible lure to the annual, summer event, veteran retailers know there’s more to ICAST than placing orders and perusing products. 

Much to learn

Launched in 2021, Lunch & Learn brings thousands of business leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs together each day to learn about the state of the industry and emerging technologies, among other things.

“I see people who attend Lunch & Learn for the first time and their eyes open like, ‘Wow, there's a lot going on out there’,” said American conservation and outdoor recreational industry analyst Rob Southwick. “Business senses, the market and the customer are constantly changing. Lunch & Learn is as a way to keep up on those changes.”

Southwick – the go-to source for some of the sportfishing industry’s most insightful analytics – has been a presenter at Lunch & Learn since the beginning. 

Last year, Southwick was joined on stage by Stephanie Vatalaro, senior vice-president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.

Stephanie is tasked with understanding the ever-shifting trends of angler and boater recruitment, retention and reactivation, known as “R3,” to help the industry grow.

She also has access to the most up-to-date data on consumer trends in the sportfishing world, and she regularly doles out on stage at Lunch & Learn. “Business owners should be the visionaries,” said Vatalaro. “If they understand what’s going on out there, they can grow their bottom line and profit.”

Southwick and Vatalaro say audience feedback is effervescent at ICAST. Despite the fast-paced atmosphere, attendees regularly make time to ask more questions, network and connect. It’s commonplace to hear more from Lunch & Learn attendees after the weeklong event.

“Lunch & Learn sessions allow us an opportunity to provide valuable information to the industry,” added Vatalaro. “The response to our sessions has been very positive. Attendees have commended our efforts, engaged with our collateral and followed up with us in meaningful ways after the show.”

Expert knowledge
For show officials, that message resonates loud and clear. ICAST Lunch & Learn seminars are making a much-anticipated return in 2024 with a full slate of experts taking the stage.

Southwick and Vatalaro will be there. So, too, will an audience of attendees who make time to take notes about fresh new ideas that are worth their weight in gold once they return to the day-to-day routine of running their business.

“Business seminars like these might cost people thousands of dollars,” said ASA’s Trade Show & Membership Vice President Blake Swango. “The take home value of Lunch & Learn is tremendous. It’s one of the events I most recommend making time for at the show.”

Set for July 16th to 19th, online registration for ICAST is already open. Qualified attendees like tackle dealers and other industry retailers can register to join the collective global sportfishing community there for free.

To secure a spot in Orlando, Florida this year, visit


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