Brown: The fishing game is forever changing | Sports


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Mixed emotions always follows me to my annual trip to the American Sportsfishing Show – called ICAST.

This year it was again in the tropical surroundings of Orlando, Florida, with daily afternoon rains and a convention center full of my favorite people and great new products.

The mixed emotions is the part where I find old friends who have retired or passed and also find out that the game is changing – some for the good and some for the bad.

I guess it has always been that way, but for me it put many things in perspective that my passion for fishing isn’t forever.

I have always believed that we should never follow our passion but rather have it in our toolbox just in case. Each year that goes by gives me thanks that I have been able to live my dream and hopefully make a few others along the way enjoy something that is deep rooted in my psyche.

I did not go to ICAST last year due to the pandemic and even though it felt good not to have to travel, I missed it.

In this industry if you are out of sight, you can get out of mind quickly and I am still not ready to ride off into the sunset. Without hesitation the people in fishing are some of the best people in the world and our love for fishing but more importantly the love for each other has never been stronger.

It doesn’t matter the company but rather the camaraderie and how each one compliments each other that makes it go. Competition and new products drive companies to improve and innovate and this year was no exception.

Each year is the “year of” something. One year its hollow bodied frogs, the next it is rods or reels, and sometimes its integration with electronics and trolling motors as it was a couple years ago.

For years we had two trolling motor companies, Minn Kota and Motorguide, that sold the lion’s share of motors, but recently Garmin and Lowrance stepped up largely due to their electronics and how the motors had to work in unison with that motor. That continues to improve, and rumor has it there will be another company entering the fray soon.

Five motors means more choices and it goes deeper than that as integration now has meaning and gives boaters choices on boat set-ups.

This year was forward facing sonar and the new class of transducer that makes it even better. It still comes down to the user and their ability to dissect what they are looking at but rest assured everyone will have to have one model or another moving forward.

As I have said many times in this column, fishing is a monkey see monkey do industry and if Charley gets a new gadget and wins, old Bob has to have it even though both could be technology challenged. They may not know what they are looking at on the screen but by golly they know it makes a difference. Those that embrace it and learn it most definitely have a competitive advantage. 

This year, I covered the floor versus scheduling meetings and got to see a lot more of the show, and honestly saw a trend that really stuck out. Lithium battery companies were out in full force. There are now more companies than you can shake a stick at. Dakota, Next Gen, Lithium Pro, RELiON, Battle Borne and Lithium Battery Company are the leaders but even they have some major differences. 

In years prior, I spent a lot of time with Craig Storms from Dakota Lithium and did so again this year, but also spent a lot of time in the Lithium Battery Companies booth with Nathan Staron and listened about their new stackable battery system and what differentiates one lithium battery from the other and when buying its best to do your homework as all lithium batteries are not created equal.

There are significant differences in power supply, recharges and how they are built that differentiates them. Prices are higher but honestly with warranties, power differences and weight reduction they are worth a look when buying new power for your boat. A case in point is a buddy recently reduced his load from over 190 pounds to 32 pounds by switching to lithium batteries over lead acid models. That is significant as more weight means more fuel consumption.

I will be outlining cool new products in the next few weeks, and get ready because the good old days are now in fishing.

B-N bass tournament benefits St. Jude’s

On Sunday, the Bloomington Normal Bass Club will be hosting its annual charity tournament at Lake Bloomington benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

With an entry fee of $100, all proceeds go St. Jude Children’s Hospitals.

The tournament will run from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., with big fish being weighed every two hours. Cash payout for biggest overall bass and all lake rules will apply.

Come out and fish or just stop by to watch the weigh ins. You can sign up at the ramp. Donations are also welcomed even if you don’t fish.

Terry Brown tighter crop

Terry Brown

By lita