Observations from 2017 The New England Salt Water Fishing Show

Here are some of my observations from this years fishing show in Providence, RI. (Click below to read full post)

Surf fishing appears to be alive and well.  I’d say more than 75% of the folks at the show were interested in surf fishing stuff.  But where are they?  I continue to be happy to find few fisherman out and about the majority of the year.  Well in talking with a few folks and listening into conversations, it appears that most guys are only fishing 1 night a week or less, and many are only fishing in June and September/October.

Very few younger folks at the show.  Not a lot of 18-30 year old folks.  Mostly dads and grand dads.  This isn’t a surprise to me, and just further supports the dying of the sport. There were some kids in attendance, but they hardly count in my eyes because they are being “forced” to go.

More women at the show than I’ve ever seen.  There was at least 1 in 10 women, which is already a big bump from say, two years ago.  Great to see.

Rods and reels continue to be the focus for everyone.  While plugs were selling, I saw far more action around rod and reel manufacturers, and more rods in people’s hands then plugs.  An interesting observation.  Not sure what it means yet, but it’s something.  Century, St. Croix, and St. Criox and Blackhole USA were on fire.  Several custom shops had a lot of business.  Cousins and ODM had a lot of representations this year.  ODM rods look like quality products, and I'm going to look into them a little more.

Tsunami continues to roll out great products.  The new shield reel is outstanding.  Way nicer than I thought it would be.  No idea if it’ll stand up to surf abuse, but it appears to be a super bargain.  I still contend that the airwave elite is the best bang for your buck reel that currently exists, pair that with a shield reel, and boy- for <$300 you have an incredible setup.  No sponsorship from them, just my observations.  Now, I’m certainly not getting rid of my Van Staal, but I’m not sure I could chalk up $300 for a new Penn slammer given the shield reel…

Where are some of the better known plug builders?  It's a shame they don't seem to make it north of Long Island, or venture down from MA.  I get it in a way, but also, wish I could get access to a lot of that stuff.  This seems like the right event?  It may be for the best, as I spent $200 on plugs anyways...had a bunch of plug builders been there...I would have been screwed.

Lots of manufactures were heavy on multi-media displays.  A lot of focus on video making and “screens” at the show, many more than even a couple years ago.  Very cool.

Seminars had big attendance.  Boat or surf.  Didn’t matter.  Great to see.

Less tuna stuff this year.  Not sure why.  Or maybe I just didn't notice it?

Almost everyone is saying the same thing: the fishery is in decline, and we’re at a fork in the road.  IF we control ourselves, and can fight for the right regulations across the fishery, we could be in store for 5-8 years of seriously good fishing.  If we don’t, we could be witness to a moratorium again in the same time period.  The thing that scares me, the number of guys who are content to catch fish in the 20-25” range.  They just don’t care- not sure if they don’t know about big fish, or it’s just a shift more towards a society of “right now”.  It makes me nervous, as this has ramifications for conservation.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, you need to do a little research and think on it.

          Kayaks are still CRAZY popular.  The kayak industry is in a boom.  The number of people doing it, the tech available for the $, and the number of fishing specific features in yaks are mind boggling.  I have a Hobie, but I’m considering trading for an Ccean Kayak or Jackson as there are some features I wish I had that would be more amenable to fly fishing from the yak, which is a huge huge proportion of what I do from the yak.  Or I might just add one of those to my fleet anyways, since Carly currently doesn't have a kayak.  One thing at a time.

      Flounder fishing continues to grow in popularity.  Especially from shore and kayak.  There were multiple fluke/flounder talks going on at the same time.  I think this is in response to a decrease in the numbers of stripers, but the continued desire of folks to get out and fish.

Interest in fly fishing remains high, but not high. That is, I observed it still on a little bit of an upswing, but it’s still not that popular.  The seminars drew a lot of folks, and the few guys selling fly gear had little crowds, but they were nothing like the number of folks around, say, Century or Tsunami or Penns booths.

Monday is spring.  This snow storm has done little to dampen my spirits about fishing season.  This show has me on FIRE.  I was lucky enough to have long conversations with some legends, and made a new hard-core fishing friend.  And I got a “few” new plugs too.  All in all, a great time.