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Lake life

Our own ICAST Best of Show

I walked for three solid days at the 2019 ICAST show and never got out of the Orlando Convention Center. Boy, was it fun. ICAST is over and the nearly 1,000 bait, tackle and fishing accessory companies have packed up their gear and headed home. What a week. I’ve never attended before and I must say, it was an amazing experience. I obviously can’t write about it all here, but I have to say what an awesome group of people and products are out there these days. These outdoor companies care about their customers and are proud of their products!

I can’t begin to name the famous folks in the industry, from pro anglers to company founders, that we got to hang out with and talk to. One of the highlights of the show each year is the selection of “Best of Show” awards for products in almost 30 categories. Then an overall “Best of Show” award is given. All are voted on by secret ballot via the show attendees. And, if you are into the “official list” of winner’s, you can find a link at the end of today’s writeup.

This year Garmin Marine won the top award for the second year in a row, this time with their very first product in the trolling motor market. Garmin is a top marine electronics/depth finder manufacture and their new trolling motor is sure to be a success. Last year at ICAST, Garmin took the top award for its new LiveScope technology, which you’ve read about here before (If you haven’t, type LiveScope in the search bar).

But for all our lakedarbonnelife.com readers, you are in for a special, exclusive treat. Welcome to the lakedarbonnelife Best of Show Awards. They were hand picked by our publisher, editor, writer, photographer, bookkeeper and general flunky team – yep, that’s ME!

“lakedarbonnelife.com “Best of Show, ICAST 2019”

(part 1 today; part 2 Thursday)

Ron Stallings (top) and Gary Dollahon show off the new Slab Runner

1. The Slab Runner
It’s a dream match for fisherman (and a nightmare for fish). TTI Blakemore has paired their popular Road Runner with Bobby Garland Crappie Lures Baby Shad tails and color coordinated them in all the popular colors. It’s going to be a fantastic new line of crappie baits. They will start shipping to dealers around the country later this week. Production is so new that even the folks from Bobby Garland didn’t get their hands on the final, packaged product until the first day of the show. Thanks to Garland’s Gary Dollahon and Blakemore’s Ron Stallings for the lowdown on this new product and for letting me put my hands on a few packs before they even ship!

John Godwin and B’n’M owner Jack Wells show off two great crappie poles

2. B’n’M BrushWhacker crappie rod in Mossy Oak Camo
Here’s another team effort. You can now get the new crappie rod from B’n’M Poles in camo colors from the popular Mississippi rod maker and cool caps and shirts in the same pattern from the camo folks. I guess if you wanted to, you could get with the Moss Oaks fishing folks and even wrap your boat to match your rods, your clothes…the possibilities are endless. But I digress. The BrushWhacker is a stout, well constructed rod that can handle the heftiest of crappie in thick brush and cover. B’n’M also has a new line of panfish poles that are going to be hard to beat. Owner Jack Wells and his team have put together a lineup that offers every fisherman plenty of quality options. It’s always fun to see their products with a local flair too, like their Duck Dynasty collection and the new Tree Thumper by Steve Danna, all tested, designed and developed our own backyard, or backlakes, I guess, as it may be. How cool is that.

Josh Neville with Bubba’s 110 V and cordless electric filet knives

3. The Bubba Electric Filet knife
I got my first Bubba Blade knife as a gift two years ago. It’s a good one, with a sturdy slip-resistant handle and a thin, flexible blade that is dangerously sharp. I was thrilled when I got to test out the newest product of their line — a heavy duty, powerful electric knife with four sets of blades. It’s not on the market yet, but when it is in a short while, you better get you one of these. It might be the last electric knife you ever need to own. Bubba’s Josh Neville pointed out the new internal fan system and the larger motor make the unit longer lasting, cooler to operate and easy to handle for big or small carving jobs. You can even filet a tuna with it — yes they did…and cut it into little pieces at their booth. Yes, I ate some. Yes, it was good! By the way, it comes in 110-volt or Lithium battery models.

New for Engel is the 7.5 quarter cooler and a new easy catch minnow retriever for the 13 quart model

4. The 7.5 Quart Engel Live Bait Cooler
Engel is a go-to cooler for crappie fishermen who depend on keeping their minnows alive to catch fish. The battery powered oxygen pump cord entry has been moved to the top of the cooler, so it won’t get crimped like it did on the side. The new 7.5 size is just right for most fishermen who only need a pound or so of shiners. Of course, they still have the larger sizes available. Chris Holloway demonstrated the sturdy new 7.5 and larger coolers, some of which now have a mesh net with a handle that fits snugly in the cooler. You can lift it to easily grab the shiners you need, then lower it back in the water.

Dan Dannenmueller will have one of these new Garmin Force motors on the front of his new boat

5. The Garmin Force Trolling motor
I spend a considerable amount of time around the trolling motor offerings at ICAST and eavesdropped as much as I could on what people were saying. It’s easy for a new product like this, coming on the heels of the LiveScope phenomenon last year, to be a popularity contest. But the new Garmin Force earned this honor all on its own merit. Paired with with the Garmin electronics units, it is something that most fishermen never dreamed of. If you are in the market for a new electric motor, check this one out. Quiet, powerful, looks good and comes in 24 or 36 volt models. Noted crappie pro Dan Dannenmueller and bass legend Bill Dance were both in the booth giving demonstrations of the features of this unit.

Karl Kalonka, left, John Godwin, right, and Crappie Magnet owner Jeff Smith are hooked on the new Slab Bites

6. Crappie Magnet Slab Bites
There’s a new crappie hook trailer in town! I, for one, love putting a little smelly dot of white or chartreuse on my hook when crappie fishing. The new Slab Bites are offering anglers a choice with some distinct advantages. For one, the new Crappie Magnet Bites are spongy and will stay on your hook well. They also don’t smell as strong as some competitors, but still offer a definite fish attracting scent and sight advantage to bring crappie to your bait. They come in several colors, including the popular chartreuse glitter models. I enjoyed visiting with Canadian TV host Karl Kalonka, Crappie Magnet’s Jeff Smith and our own Godwin in discussing the testing out the baits.


right here on lakedarbonnelife.com


If you want to look at the official ICAST “Best of Show” in all the categories, here you go:



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