Just about every U.S. industry has its own “trade” group; for recreational fishing businesses, we have the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), of which The Fisherman Magazine is a member, as are nearly all of the national tackle manufacturers whose products our readers use every day. Every summer, Fisherman staffers head out to ASA’s big ICAST show – the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades. That’s the big event where retailers and media types learn about the latest tackle innovations while providing a sneak peek at products coming soon to our local shops.
Come fall, ASA members nationwide gather for the annual Sportfishing Summit focusing more specifically on industry-driven initiatives which can provide better fishing opportunities for salt and freshwater anglers. A full week of meetings spotlight issues affecting local businesses and consumers alike; for example, if bucktails and bait-holder hooks aren’t selling because anglers are experiencing shortened fluke and sea bass seasons, one would expect the Sportfishing Summit to be the place where these problems are highlighted. So yes, as the end consumer, an angler’s needs are addressed very specifically when tackle makers and sellers get together to discuss the state of the industry!
While attending the 2017 Sportfishing Summit from October 10-13 in Clearwater Beach, FL – and while occasionally staring out the conference room windows at mullet explosions on the Gulf of Mexico – I learned that ASA’s board of directors had promoted Glenn Hughes to president starting April 1, 2018. The former publisher of national publications like Salt Water Sportsman and Marlin, Hughes was hired by ASA in 2013 as vice president to oversee trade show, membership and marketing/communications efforts; his new top role comes following word that longtime ASA president Mike Nussman would be stepping down in March after 16 years in that position.
Nussman himself joined ASA as Vice President of Government Affairs in 1992 following nine years on Capitol Hill in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; his political background allowed him to take over as ASA’s chief lobbyist, and over the years he’d spent a significant amount of time overseeing trade shows and conservation programs as well.
“The board of directors has made an excellent selection,” Nussman said of his incoming replacement after 25 years in all at ASA, adding “With his passion for the sport and his industry background, Glenn is the right guy to lead the association forward.”
Before heading to the summit, I’d heard from a lot of friends and business partners at home regarding the state of our local industry; specifically, that the fluke cutbacks and the federal closure of black sea bass through most of October (and all of January and February) has tackle shop owners and captains about as frustrated as their customers.
A lot of the national industry focus recently has been on red snapper in the south; while fluke and sea bass were longtime poster children for federal fisheries mismanagement, red snapper has taken much of the lead role in the trade association debate. However, Northeast anglers and business leaders should take comfort in knowing that a report distributed at the summit listed flounder or fluke as the third most targeted species by saltwater anglers (20.2%) nationwide, behind species like redfish (32.3%) and speckled trout (21.3%), and just ahead of grouper, snapper and sea bass (18.3%), striped bass (14.9%) and snook (14.8%).
For The Fisherman’s core base from southern Maine to northern Maryland, there’s also optimism surrounding Hughes’ local knowledge of our fishery; while the incoming president spent the better part of two decades fishing the Sunshine State overseeing Florida-based national fishing mags, Hughes actually grew up fishing the lakes of Pennsylvania and along the Jersey Shore. So yeah, he’s the type of guy who knows the difference between fluke and flounder, which well equips him to understand the unique needs of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic anglers.
Could we see a future ASA Sportfishing Summit at Chatham Bars Inn and Resort on Cape Cod, Gurney’s in Montauk, or an Atlantic City casino during the height of the fall run? Possibly, but in terms of looking ahead at 2018 and beyond, we at The Fisherman are optimistic about our recreational fishing future. And on behalf of our tackle buyers and sellers alike, we welcome Glenn Hughes as president of our national trade organization.