The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades – better known as ICAST – was held as an in-person event last month for the first time since 2019. Of course, COVID shut down the in-person meeting at the Orlando, FL convention center last summer, turning it into a “virtual” online event. I must say it’s pretty hard to get a handle on new gear that you can’t actually get your hands on! While the 2021 version was a little lighter than normal in terms of participation, it was terrific being on the convention floor again looking over new toys.
It’s not lost on anyone that COVID is still impacting product delivery across the globe; the fact that a piece of plywood now costs six times what it did in 2019 tells the story pretty well. But after a staggering increase to $1,670 per thousand board feet in May – up from $336.2 per thousand board feet a year earlier – by July 16, 2021 NASDAQ lumber futures finally hit $536 per thousand board feet (those waiting until prices stabilized to get some dock work done might want to get in touch with your marine supply center, though prices were up a bit again by the end of last month).
Mind you, there wasn’t a lot of price gouging in the recreational fishing and boating market. What we did experience was just a serious void of stuff. If you’re still waiting for that new outboard or center console delivery, hang in there; we may finally be seeing light at the end of the tunnel! One recent market analysis pegged the socio-economic importance of recreational fishing as driving long-term growth in the demand for gear. That in itself was evidenced by a shortage of rods, reels, lures, lines, boats and motors through much of 2020, as demand far exceeded available supply.
In fact, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for sportfishing equipment was estimated at $12.6 billion, a figure that’s projected to hit $16 billion by 2027. The same report forecasts how major technological advances and new developments in rod manufacturing are expected to drive growth, with lures, flies and baits representing the fastest growing segment in the sportfishing industry.
For the next few months, Long Island editor Matthew Broderick and I will be sharing – twice a week – some of the latest, greatest gear we found on the floor at ICAST 2021. If you’re not currently receiving our bi-weekly email alerts or perhaps you’re not subscribed to our YouTube channel, log in and sign up at TheFisherman.com. While ICAST features literally hundreds of different tackle manufacturers, Matt and I focused attention on the roughly 40 or so brands that are actively gearing up for local product delivery this summer through the start of the New Year.
The good news learned at ICAST is that most of the top manufacturers were confident about new product releases through August and into the fall, with a few outstanding new items expected to hit the market sometime around the holidays and into 2022. So long as international shipping doesn’t run into any further snags (like getting stuck sideways in a major canal), and U.S. factories and warehouses can get back up to full staffing, the newest items spotlighted in our twice-weekly video updates should be in your hands in no time at all.
Another interesting thing I learned at ICAST last month, something that seems a bit odd at first but really makes sense when you think about it, is that while a lot of American businesses regrettably suffered tremendously during the pandemic, three sectors that saw a real boom in 2020 were recreational fishing, slipper manufacturing, and divorce attorneys. No, seriously!
Like I said, it makes sense when you really think about it.