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ICAST Daily: Bill Dance Glad Show is Back After Covid Cancelation

Also, ICAST Cup winners set new tournament record at Lake Toho.

ICAST Daily: Bill Dance Glad Show is Back After Covid Cancelation

Legendary fisherman Bill Dance mugs for the camera with Emily Kohlman of Stinky Balls Baits at ICAST 2021. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

One of the highlights from every ICAST is the New Product Showcase, which highlights the newest offerings from show exhibitors. Tuesday’s Showcase reception, open to media and other attendees who will vote for their favorites in more than 30 categories in the Best of Show competition, was the kind of get-together that was more than pitching new gear.

If you're scoring from home, the Best of Show winner will be announced Thursday.

While media members were shooting photos and videos on hundreds of new gear items, the reception was especially poignant for the fishing industry, which saw ICAST canceled due to the pandemic last summer. For many it was two years since they last saw each other.

Attending the reception was famed fisherman Bill Dance, who shook hands, shared stories and mugged for photos. Dance has been to quite a few ICASTs, even back when it was called by a different acronym and was held at various cities.

As much as folks were happy to see Dance, he was ecstatic to spend time with them.

"I have been going to ICAST for 50 years, I want to say. I started going to ICAST when ICAST was AFTMA (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association)," Dance said. "It’s wonderful to be back, wonderful to be back all together. The excitement to see everybody, to see all the manufacturers. It's wonderful."

Dance shared many stories Tuesday — one after the other — including one about holding the striped bass record at Lake Lanier for less than a week in the early days of striper fishing at the famed Georgia lake. Dance was used to battling Tennessee stripers — his biggest catch was more than 60 pounds. So, when word was that his 24-pounder broke a decade-old lake record, you couldn’t blame him for being a bit ho-hum about the whole thing.

The catch caught the attention of former Atlanta Journal-Constitution outdoors editor Charles Salter, who wanted pictures and details about how the fish was caught. "He was real excited about it," Dance said.

But before the week was out, Salter called Dance back to apologize for some "bad news,” that his state record had already been broken.

"Boo hoo," Dance recalls telling Salter. "I said ‘Charlie, you know records are made to be broken."

By the way, the Lake Lanier striper record now stands at 47 pounds, 12 ounces.

Lucky Go Fishing/Fish Bites team wins 2021 ICAST Cup. (Photo courtesy of Major League Fishing)

ICAST Cup winners

ICAST 2021 doesn’t officially open until Wednesday, but there’s was plenty of activity Tuesday surrounding the event in Orlando.


Lake Toho hosted the ICAST Cup Tuesday, with 55 boats entered in a four-hour bass-fishing tournament that featured anglers from the MLF Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and Toyota Series trails, as well as outdoor media and industry representatives.

The Lucky Go Fishing and Fish Bites team of Terrie Huffmaster, Tonya Michelle and Jackson Williams weighed in a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 10 ounces to win first place, and a new ICAST Cup record. The winning limit weighed 10 ounces more than the second-place team — Team USA Bassin’, comprised of Richard Patterson, Dave Smith and Glen Cabezas.

"What a day. This has been so awesome. This is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Huffmaster said in a news release. "To everyone that put this event on and made it happen – MLF, ICAST, everybody here – thank you for putting this on and making this happen. I cannot tell you how humbled I am and how blessed I feel right now. I’m way past Cloud 9 – I’m on Cloud 14 or 15 right now."

The event raised $11,000 to benefit Keep America Fishing™, the industry’s angler advocacy program. In its five-year history, the ICAST Cup has raised more than $61,000 for Keep America Fishing.

Also well-attended was the ICAST On the Water day, during which tackle companies answered questions and allowed visitors to try new gear out under the hot sun at an Orange County Convention Center pond. From 10 a.m. until around 2 p.m., attendees tested out new kayaks, rods and reels, lures, and more.

Coming Wednesday

ICAST 2021 officially opens Wednesday for a three-day run at the Orlando convention center. By day's end, Best of Category winners (from the New Product Showcase) will be announced.

Check back with Game & Fish for additional coverage of ICAST 2021.

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