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The Virtual Show Must Go On

By Steve Chaconas

The Virtual Show Must Go On

Fishing lures cast today likely starred at an ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) show. The industry’s largest sportfishing trade show is produced by the American Sportfishing Association, located in Alexandria, VA. Decades of relationships have been forged and loads of tackleboxes filled when buyers, distributors, and media decide what fish want at the annual show.

But Covid struck. Flights, hotel reservations and the world’s biggest fishing show succumbed to the virus. But the show must go on. Ongoing stay-at-home orders have not resulted in cancellation, but in change.  ICAST 2020 will be hosted virtually online in mid-July, providing exhibitors and attendees the experience of the show floor from their quarantined laptops/mobile devices.

Respected media player Terry Brown, Wired2fish, has been preparing for the virtual show. He considers fishing companies a part of an extended family and features ICAST products in Wired’s own gallery. Brown thinks the New Product Showcase will more accurately reflected as voting will be closely monitored.

Unable to check out some of the latest lures and fishing gear in person, ICAST on line will report what’s coming down the pipeline and likely reach a larger angling industry audience than ever before. Fishing generates nearly a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people, and ICAST is the key to growing the fishing industry.

Pete Gluszek, “The Dean” of The Bass University, has noticed ICAST changes over the past 15 years. Retailers discovered things that couldn’t be found anywhere, and they’d buy for the season.  Pros educated retailers on products and how to sell them. Gluszek says, since the internet, it’s not a buyers show anymore. It’s become a media show with manufacturers, media and pros creating content to showcase new products.  Buyers and retailers save expenses and stay home, covering the show with media reports and ASA updates.  He credits ASA for providing sales training for attendees.  Gluszek will broadcast from the virtual show floor featuring interviews with pros and manufacturers.

Attendees can select exhibitors and products as well as save appointments, sessions and demos to a personalized calendar. This should be a more time effective opportunity to connect member exhibitors with more buyers. Without set up, travel and hotel costs, retailers and manufacturers will save expense money.  However, if sales slump, Gluszek says ASA and manufacturers will be pushing hard for the show to come back next year.

Showcasing products and services in virtual “booths” and hosting virtual press conferences, exhibitors can also schedule live and on-demand product demonstrations. Virtual meetings with buyers and media can get company messages out.

BassCat pro John Crews has attended nearly every ICAST show in the past 20 years, representing himself along with SPRO, Cashion Rods, Sunline, and T-H Marine. Recently he’s been demonstrating his Missile Baits soft plastic company. Crews is looking forward to revealing new products during the virtual show.

Public and password-activated access to different sections of the show will be available, contact asafishing.org.  The online FLW ICAST Cup Bass Fishing Tournament and an interactive scavenger hunt will add to the experience. Business education seminars and other interactive events for buyers, media and angling public will be included. Conservation related ASA hosted events will engage the recreational fishing audience to focus on the nation’s conservation efforts and critical needs for the future.

Representing many industry giants like Toyota, Carhartt, Yamaha, Zebco, for over 25 years Alan McGucken with Dynamic Sponsorships says virtual events might replace costly shows in the future, but he doesn’t think it will happen soon unless the virtual experience is effective. “Nothing can quite replace the personal touch of an annual face to face in a booth.”

Putting People and Product Together is the theme of ICAST 2020 as the big show transitions from planes, hotels and convention hall booths to a virtual show. Good news for ICAST attendees, the virtual version is open 24/7 and allows access from anywhere in the world, the perfect covid convention cure. ICAST doesn’t end at the closing bell as connections secured during the week can virtually last a season.

With a show floor, companies large and small are on the same level and can vie for attention. In an on line show, smaller companies can be virtually obscure. Whether this virtual ICAST show is a sign of the times or just shifting gears, ICAST is venturing into uncharted waters. While on line shows might be the wave of the future, hopefully it won’t leave manufacturers under water or anglers up a creek.

Potomac River Bassing in JULY

It’s hot, as water hits the mid to upper 80s, get out early and leave before the heat and storms roll in.

Take a top down approach and continue as long as weather and fish cooperate. With cooler cloudy conditions, Poppers  will work close to cover, grass or wood.

When the topwater bite fades, try shallow crankbaits and bladed jigs. Slow retrieves with swim jigs will work too. Catch grass and snap and stop. Stay in the shade as long as possible.

After the sun is out and stays, time to go to soft plastics. Texas rigged Mizmo tubes on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Tube hooks, shaky head with long shank Mustad jig hooks,  Neko rigs with Mustad 2/0 red wacky rig hooks and wacky rigged weightless stickworms work. Skip baits under docks or into grass clumps.

Line is key too. For poppers, use either 20 pound Gamma torque braid or Gamma 10 pound test Copoly line. For the crankbaits and bladed jigs, use 10-12 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. The soft plastics presentations can be used on spinning gear like Quantum Smoke reels spooled with 15 pound test Gamma Torque braid with 10-12 pound test Edge leader. Or on casting gear, spool  Quantum Smoke casting reels with 14 pound test Edge that can also handle most cover situations.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.

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