I did not get lost at ICAST, the big fishing-tackle trade show, which was held in Orlando this year, but I did get confused enough a couple of times to have to go to a big sign hanging from the ceiling and get reoriented, and I once went out the wrong exit when I headed back to my motel.
There were lots of vendors with excellent products, and many of them had catchy new styling or little tweaks to existing gear, some of which have been around since before any of us were born.
I was especially impressed by the huge growth in what started out decades ago as some very plain and simple hunks of cast metal with a hook attached. The old “cod jig” or “tin squid” got reworked decades ago in California as chrome-plated “irons.” A few years ago, Japanese “butterfly jigs” became all the rage, and they still continue to get even more popular.
At ICAST dozens of manufacturers exhibited dozens of slightly varying shapes, sizes, weights and finishes of metal jigs. The new finishes may or may not be a factor in how the fish react (don’t forget that all color except blue ceases to exist down below as little as a couple hundred feet), but they had the sales people in a frenzy.
I suspect that all of them work well, and also that most fishermen will insist that there are individual lures that are vastly superior (but with no significant data to back up their claims)! That seems to be the case for anglers fishing all over the globe, from the shallowest flats to the deepest blue water.
It was a lot of fun, and in two tiring days of walking, I still ended up missing some people and exhibits that I wanted to visit.
The Marlin University team left on a Monday for Bermuda. There were plenty of whitecaps visible on our descent over deep blue water that changed to light blue over sand and shallow reefs.
The breaking seas and a stiff breeze warned us about what to expect in the deep water through which we would be trolling for our target species, the mighty giants for which we had come, big blue marlin, hopefully up to or even more than 1,000 pounds. Bermuda has won the worldwide 4th of July World Cup more times than any other place except Kona, Hawaii.
On day one, my team, fishing with Alan and Ian Card on their lovely 40-foot Gamefisher, Challenger, got a blue and a white. Unfortunately, that was it for the four days, and we even got blown in the next day by 35-knot winds. The front went by and the weather got better, but the fish had either moved on or were not in the mood to bite. It is always frustrating to all of us when that happens, but that, my friends, is what fishing for blue marlin is like anywhere! People get all excited by news of a hot bite, but there is no place where the bite is good all the time.
Most people who go to Bermuda do not go fishing, and they enjoy themselves — so did we! The food was good, the hospitality at the hotel, Hamilton Princess, was excellent, and the wives who did not fish loved Bermuda. Remember, “If Mama is happy, Daddy is happy.”
Tournament season is in full swing; we’ll get out some reports of what’s going on over the next few weeks.
All the best,
Peter B. Wright