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ICAST forges connections to Florida fishing and the world


They come from London, Lisbon, Madrid, Copenhagen and Sao Paolo… every day, a kaleidoscope of cultures converge at Miami International Airport fuelling a pipeline that has powered art, music and food across the globe for generations.

And for one week each summer, part of that pipeline leads directly to the centre of the Sunshine State – to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

 That’s where the doors of ICAST swing open each year.

ICAST is the largest sportfishing trade show on the planet. At ICAST, representatives of retail stores and manufacturers from the banks of the Amazon to the beaches of the Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic join visitors from Africa, Asia, Europe and Australasia to mingle with the combined sportfishing communities of the world.

Last year, more than 13,000 people from 80 nations convened at ICAST to explore seemingly endless aisles of new fishing tackle, marine products, apparel and lifestyle items from more than 630 exhibitors. And this year, a new high-speed rail connection to Miami promises to make it even easier for visitors connecting from Miami International Airport to join the fun.

In September of 2023, Brightline announced the official opening of its Miami to Orlando high speed rail service, creating a crucial link from the city’s 192 non-stop destinations to ICAST. Travelers entering the U.S. at Miami International can now board the only high speed rail network in the United States and ride in comfort between the Florida cities in three and a half hours. Combined with Orlando International Airport’s supplementary offering of direct flights from global cities, there has never been more options for convenient travel to ICAST.

“No other show comes close to drawing the number of distributors of fishing tackle and outdoor gear under one roof in one location,” said ASA Trade Show Vice President Blake Swango. “ICAST brings together sportfishing manufacturers and retailers from around the world. The show is conveniently located in Orlando, minimising travel from many destinations while offering an exceptional experience in one of the largest meeting venues in the United States, the Orange County Convention Center.”

Extended stays in the Sunshine State

This year, ICAST will run for four days from July 16th to 19th. That’s a short trip to Florida for most, which is why for many ICAST attendees, the business trip doubles as a gateway to a getaway on the state’s legendary fisheries—some of which are purely magical.

Just ten kilometres from ICAST at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, attendees can book a private fishing trip to connect with Florida’s legendary largemouth bass in the house the mouse built. There, professional-level bass boats and pontoons loaded with fishing buddies ply the lapping waters of Disney World Resort, gliding beneath Cinderella’s Castle and cruising past steamboats playing childhood tunes from the pipes of calliopes.

ICAST visitors are encouraged to visit through Take Me Fishing, an initiative of ASA’s partner organisation, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

“It’s almost like stepping into another world,” said outdoor content creator Tiffany ‘Snookie’ Risch. “You are surrounded by the magic of Disney, but also surrounded by mother nature. Everybody who comes to ICAST is not a bass angler, so fishing there blends the enchantment of Disney with the experience of fishing with friends and living through their excitement of catching a bass.”

Florida bass aren’t the only bucket list fish on the agenda for ICAST visitors. Thanks to a convenient location midway between both coasts, world class saltwater fisheries are also within a short drive.

Less than two hours west from Orlando, the tranquil corridors of Florida’s Crystal Bay form one of the country’s finest inshore fisheries. Filled with mangrove lines, grass flats, cuts, bays and oyster bars, this waterway is a haven for some of the best redfish, tarpon, cobia and sea trout fishing in the United States.

“Florida still has hidden places to fish,” says Captain Jay Withers, “During ICAST, I take a lot of people out from companies like Shimano, Power-Pole and AFTCO. They come in before or after the show to fish in places like Yankeetown, which is a tiny village with phenomenal fishing that’s as old school as it gets.”

Withers says travellers regularly call him from around the globe for a chance to boat Atlantic snook or connect with a tarpon that’s ready to fly.

Registration for ICAST 2024, set for July 16th-19th, is open now at ICASTFishing.org. Qualified attendees can register for free and find convenient show guides and schedules to help plan their trip.

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