I'm not a writer or anything, but I have to talk about my experience at the 2014 iCast in Orlando, FL. this past week/weekend! The minute I heard about iCast and googled what it was I emailed Luke immediately and asked him could I join since I only live 3 hours from Orlando. So when Luke said "I was just getting ready to ask if you would like to come" I felt it was meant to be. My original plan was to make it a family trip, but having a newborn and my son being with his mother that weekend I was forced to go alone.
Although my wife isn't really into fishing, she supports me whole heartily and told me to go and have fun. Fun was an understatement. When I got off of work on that Wednesday, I was so anxious to hit the world. A week before iCast Captain Fil gave me a call and asked me to bring my kayak so we can all fish together as a group. Of course I said "Hell yeah". Now back to the topic.
Now that my kayak and packed bags are loaded it was time to give my wife, son, and daughter a kiss goodbye so I can hit the road. I had a little anxiety because I just got a new/used truck and this would be the first time taking it on the road. All I can think about is "I hope I make it without any problems. I hope my Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.7 15.5ft doesn't fall off either LOL." So as I'm on the road driving for the first hour I kept looking back at my kayak and dashboard to make sure everything is going ok. After an hour and a half past, and everything stayed put it was time to open this truck up to see what it could really do. So I put my foot to the gas and ZOOM there I go. I was doing 80mph with no problem.
Now that I'm driving and I'm about an hour away, my mind was racing. I was thinking about "How will the the other pro staffers see me? Will they accept me?" Since this was going to be my first time meeting Luke LaBree in person "How will he be towards me?" I called John Oast and he told me they're going to wait for me. I'm about 5 minutes away from seeing the other pro staffers that waited for me to get there and just from them doing that, I knew I was going to be around good people. After dropping my kayak off to a co-worker's house so I wouldn't have an invitation for thieves, I pull up to meet the team.
When I say I felt like family from the greetings of all the pro staffers that were there, that would be an understatement. Jean, Fil, Randy, David, and John was great. I didn't see Luke yet and they said we're going to another restaurant that was walking distance from the one we were at and Luke will meet us there. I have to tell you I thought Luke was short and a little heavier LOL. SO when he came to the restaurant and I see a tall and slim guy I was completely surprised LOL. It was Luke's birthday and this guy was great. How many people can celebrate their birthday and win best boat, and best of show in the same day? This guy can, and we all were super excited.
When I walked into the convention center in Orlando where iCast was being held, I was like a kid in a candy store looking to get cavities because it was just that sweet. OMG I couldn't stay focused walking to our WINNING booth with Jason Arnold. For 3 days I was on my feet more than 8 hours, but I couldn't ask for a better 8 hours on my feet LOL. The place was huge and couldn't walk the entire center. I met some really cool people like Luther CEO of Yak Attack, Stephen with TFO rods, and saw so many new products. The most impressive was the Predator XL. Not because I'm a pro staffer for Johnson Outdoors, but because it is such a brilliant design for a kayak and a dream of mine to see kayak fishing becoming so huge.
The last day of iCast was Friday and it's time to go back. I felt like I was there longer than 4 days and felt like I knew all of the guys a lot longer. Saturday morning Fil, Randy, Jean, Tony, Zach, a few of Jean friends, and I went fishing as a group and that was awesome. We didn't catch anything big, but we did catch more than fish. We caught a once in a life time moment and all became closer. I left out a lot of details because we had that much fun in the little time we shared together. It was bitter sweet because I was missing my wife and kids. In all I had a blast with the team and I'm proud to say I'm part of a company/team that really cares about each other. Thank you Luke, David, Randy, Fil, Jean, and all the others. I can't wait to put the AWARD winning Predator XL to the limits. Tight Lines and see you all again soon. P.S. We're going to win it next year too LOL.