Fishing Industry Endures Corona With Local Production
July 2020, Volume 115
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If you ask a random person on the street, from your safe six-foot distance of course, what is ICAST, you’re likely to get a funny look and probably a response about something to do with a new Apple product. But for us die-hard fishermen, particularly bass fishermen looking to gain an advantage before the masses, ICAST is the premier event of the year to see what all the big boys, and in some instances the local crowd, has been up to the past year and just what new bass slayin’ baits will be released in the next year. Not just baits, it’s the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, meaning you will see nearly anything and everything for marine sportfishing.
Unfortunately this year’s event will not take place… in its usual format that is. Instead, this year will be a full-on ONLINE experience. With a virtual show on the horizon there are a ton of unknowns for exhibitors, fans in the industry, and ICAST. As we move into a whole new way of doing life, thanks to Coronavirus, the biggest event of the year could be a make or break for the industry. Or could it?
If you are like me and have seen the isles of most big box stores lately, you immediately notice a “lighter” selection in the fishing area, to say the least. This points to a few glaring weaknesses of the industry but puts a prime one in focus…the industry’s detrimental reliance on foreign imports for both foreign product production and materials for US based production. Even the primarily American make lines still are suffering supply chain bottlenecks and logistical hurdles limiting production. Such is a global economy I suppose. A silver lining definitely exists here though.
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Whether it be due to smaller quantity, commercial versus individual packaging, or just sheer luck, much of the limitations facing the “big boys” are simply not there for the everyday local guys. Many of your local bait makers are able to get just what they need to keep their product cranking out to you. The opportunity and time are right like never before for you to support your local manufacturers. Check out our partner’s page for a listing of some of the many small and local manufacturers across Louisiana. Not only the manufacturers, but many of your local tackle shops are able to stay better stocked than some of the big box stores while operating in these current industry restrictions.
In talking with some of the Louisiana based manufacturers, we have found not only are they ginning with materials and production (for the most part – I mean sure there’s some things you just can’t avoid) they are taking even more steps to harden their supply lines from foreign influence wherever possible. That means bringing business back home. Not just the consumers “Buying American” but as we see more and more manufacturers “Buying American” we can hope to see a true resurgence in American production and manufacturing again, not just for commercial products but for raw materials. Sure there are exceptions.
The most glaring exception to this rule is clearly tungsten weights. One country alone has nearly 70% of the world’s mineral reserves of tungsten. You guessed it, CHINA. At last check (last year sometime) there was literally ONE functioning tungsten mine in the US, with a yield of only a few tons a year, primarily used in specialty tooling, manufacturing, and military industries. Limitations like these mean there will always be foreign reliance within the fishing industry, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still support your local companies. Look for tungsten from Louisiana companies like Rougarou Tackle.
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When you need something to hook on the end of that Tungsten, support your local soft plastics guys we have covered, or the new-comers just starting out like Shongaloo Outdoors. They not only offer you a quick refill of items you may not be able to find on store shelves at the moment, but can often offer more insight and local knowledge of what colors and baits work on water bodies in YOUR state. The best part, many even offer the opportunity to completely customize the color you want. While you can find near limitless colors at the box stores, that custom option just can’t be purchased there!
So as we eagerly await this years’ ICAST event, in hopes of seeing the next oooh and aaaahhh thing from the big boys, give your local guys the chance at your business. We promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Follow Bassin' In The Boot across social media and be sure to check out our partners for local selection for all your angling needs. Partners page link below.