‘ICAST kick-started my new career in tackle retail’
One year ago Corey Pugh was making his first trip to ICAST. With a military career in the rearview, Pugh had his sights on a new goal: buying a tackle shop in the Caribbean.
After finding a store for sale near his wife’s home, Pugh arranged to meet the owner in person and solidify a deal. By the time he had left the show floor at ICAST, the annual trade show produced by the American Sportfishing Association, Pugh and his wife were the new owners of Neptune Fishing Supplies on the idyllic shores of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Pughs assumed ownership of the 44-year-old company, just a few feet from the turquoise waters of a marina in the port village of Red Hook, and immediately got to work.
With a built-in customer base of tourists searching for rock fish and lingcod, charter guides, commercial fishermen and resident subsistence anglers across both the U.S.
and British Virgin Islands, Pugh’s new business needed military-like logistics to stay operational.
But nearly a year into his new business endeavor, Pugh says his family has the hang of it. “Meeting and greeting the vendors at ICAST was a great way to transition,” he says. “We actually met the old owner at ICAST to help get things going, and it was great because I was able to see so many vendors and shake hands with the person on the other end of the phone.”
For Pugh, whose business operates 1,200 miles southeast of Orlando, that face time has proved invaluable. “It totally makes a difference,” he added. “People remember you. It’s a very personable thing that I highly, highly recommend.”
Scheduled for July 11th to 14th, registration for ICAST 2023 is already open at ICASTFishing.org. Last year, more than 12,000 attendees from 73 nations around the globe converged inside Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. With a schedule of activities like daily Lunch & Learn business seminars, a bass fishing tournament hosted by
Major League Fishing, ICAST On The Water Product Demo Day and the State of the Industry Breakfast, attendees have no shortage of opportunities to make connections and expand their knowledge base.
That’s in addition to an expanded New Product Showcase – which houses hundreds of new products in one space – and the all-new ICAST Fly Shop, a booth situated next to the New Product Showcase where dealers can enjoy casting exhibitions, fly tying and networking.
Each year, many exhibitors offer special pricing to dealers placing orders at ICAST as well as the opportunity to win daily $500 cash prizes just for placing orders at the show. That’s on top of a stellar grand prize: a fishing trip for two to Crocodile Bay, Costa Rica, one of the best marlin and sailfish locations on the planet.
Pugh says ICAST is at the pinnacle of fishing and boating trade shows internationally. “It’s an amazing place to see new products, not just from the big lines but also the smaller manufacturers that just came out with an unheard of new product. In the beginning, those products might seem really weird, but the next thing you know they’ve become an industry standard.”
To register for ICAST 2023, visit ICASTFishing.org. Dealers like Pugh can qualify for free admission and find deals on hotels located within walking distance of the show floor.