Friday marked the third and final day of business at the 2014 ICAST/IFTD show at the Orange County Convention Center in central Florida.
While the crowds thinned a bit as the day wore on and people began to head for Disney World visits or a trip to the airport, there was still a noticeable energy on the show floor as last minute business deals and product discussions took place.
The OutdoorChannel.com editorial crew was there until the show concluded at 3 p.m. ET and found one last collection of facts, figures and quotes from the annual trade show gathering for recreational fishing.
ICAST Wraps Up 57th Trade Show
On Friday, the 2014 ICAST Show – the 57th edition of the show – concluded its run in Orlando with another day of success.
According to early reports, business was brisk and the show's overall impact was huge this year. How big was ICAST 2014?
According to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), more than 11,000 registered attendees – including members from more than 1,000 media outlets – came to Florida this year to see, buy and report on the newest products and innovations in the fishing industry.
ICAST Best of Show Awards Draws Big Response
It's one of the biggest components of the annual ICAST show, the “Best of Show” awards competition.
This year was no exception as more than 700 tackle items, fishing products, apparel samples and angling accessories were entered into the competition by some 253 companies.
By the show's end, all came to Orlando hoping to garner one of the 24 “Best of Show” category awards. Not to mention holding the hope of winning the overall “Best of Show” honors.
That helps to explain why the “New Product Showcase,” a special section of ICAST's vast 500,000-gross-square-foot show floor, was a popular spot this week.
“I congratulate all of the winners and everyone who participated in the New Product Showcase,” said ASA president and CEO Mike Nussman. “Every year it's amazing to see all the creativity and ingenuity our member companies use to add curiosity, excitement and discovery to the adventure of fishing.”
Old Town Predator XL Kayak Wins Overall “Best of Show”
The top product overall – as well as the top offering in the new boat category – was awarded to Old Town for its innovative Predator XL kayak.
A 13-foot long and three-foot wide kayak that checks in at 95 pounds, the Predator XL's best attribute is a 45-pound thrust Minn Kota console mounted motor that can be swapped out. When the motor is taken out, yakkers can put in its place an electronics console or simple flat decking.
Duckett Fishing, Shimano and G. Loomis Take Rod Awards
In this year's competition to see which companies have produced the year's top new rod entries, the competition was fierce. When the smoke had cleared, three winners had emerged.
Those included Duckett Fishing's Micro Magic Pro model, the best rod in freshwater and Shimano's Terez Stand Up, the best rod in saltwater angling.
For fly rod enthusiasts, G. Loomis' PRO4x Short Stix received the honor as the best new fly rod to be introduced.
Editor's Note: The ICAST show has a fly rod competition that is separate from a similar one held at the concurrently running IFTD show.
Abu-Garcia, Shimano and 3-T and Take Top Reel Awards
In the world of freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing reels, there was big competition this year.
Taking home the top fishing reel honors in freshwater was Abu-Garcia's Revo Beast. On the saltwater side, Penn's Battle II spinning reel reigned supreme.
On the fly fishing side of things, the top reel honors went to 3-Tand for its TF-70 sealed fly reel model.
Editor's Note: The ICAST show has a fly reel competition that is separate from a similar one held at the concurrently running IFTD show.
Spro, Savage Gear Win Top Lure Awards
On the lure side of things, two companies took home top honors in a highly competitive field that saw dozens and dozens of entries into “Best of Show.”
Spro won the title of “Best Hard Lure” at the 2014 ICAST Show with its swimbait style big rat imitation, the BBZ-1 Rat, a topwater style lure that should draw explosive strikes from big bass.
On the soft lure side, Savage Gear took top honors for its superb looking crab imitation, the 3D PVC Crab.
2014 ICAST and IFTD Shows Get Thumbs Up From Attendees
A quick check of the pulse at both the ICAST and the IFTD shows in Orlando found that most manufacturers were generally pleased with this year's results.
“We've had a really good show,” said Corey Maynard in the Yeti Coolers booth, one of the show floor's more popular spots thanks in part to the company's introduction of its Hopper soft-sided cooler.
“We've had a lot of traffic through the booth, a good bit more than last year,” said Brian Schmidt, fly production specialist with Umpqua Feather Merchants out of Louisville, Col. “I don't know the numbers, but it seemed to be really busy all of the time.”
Pebble Mine News Creates Last Day Buzz at IFTD
What started as a rumor on Friday soon turned to a buzz on the fly fishing side of the aisle at the concurrently running ICAST and IFTD shows in Orlando.
That took place when word began to spread that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had announced that it would endorse analysis that would essentially stop in its tracks a proposed massive gold-and-copper mining project in Alaska.
Known by the “Pebble Mine” moniker, the project has threatened to destroy one of the world's premier salmon fisheries.
On Friday, the EPA said in published reports that it had concluded that the mine project “ … would cause irreversible damage to one of the world's last intact salmon ecosystems.”
Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Partnership, vowed to fight on to get the mine project eventually approved.
“We will continue to fight this unprecedented action by the Agency and we are confident we will prevail,” he said in published reports.
On Friday, as the 2014 ICAST and IFTD shows wound down in Orlando, the fly fishing industry was buoyed by the idea that Collier and his Pebble Mine group would not.