Every year I try to attend the Tampa Tribune Outdoor Expo and Boat Show. It’s close to where I live, and one of the biggest shows on the West Coast of Florida. This year’s show did not disappoint, and I had a great time talking to old friends as well as making new ones.
When going to shows, I tend to look for local Florida businesses that are new or unique, businesses that I think will take off and make it in the industry. There are many fresh new companies out there that some may have heard of, and some may not. I will give you a brief overview of some of my favorites from the show.
Skinny Water Culture. SWC is a clothing company out of the Dunedin area. Vince and his crew have become established as a company that has set itself apart from the rest, with sharp, clean designs, and a diverse product line which is always changing and improving. I picked up one of their new moisture wicking hats and am pleased with the fit and feel. Check out their website for the latest designs of microfiber and long sleeve shirts, hats, tee’s and stickers.
Reel Sassy is a women’s clothing line owned and run by two young ladies out of the Stuart area, Kimberlee Ewing and Kristy Levin. I talked to them for a minute and they seemed to have it all together. The company is fresh and innovative; a clothing line developed by women, for women. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a business around that’s solely dedicated to women’s fishing apparel that actually looks good and stylish, something that many women will actually wear. My wife and daughter loved their line, I may order some shirts for their upcoming birthdays. Reel Sassy has a pretty extensive line of clothes and accessories from tank tops to microfiber shirts, hoodies and hats to name a few. Check them out at reelsassy.com.
Hall em’ in lures. Dave Hall and his father base their family business out of Orlando. Some argue they may be the best artificial plug makers around. I consider their wooden plugs to be some of the finest I’ve ever seen. The attention to detail put into the shapes and colors of these lures is amazing. They also make shadow boxes for lure storage and other uses; some are even displayed in a gallery right in my home town of Apollo Beach. There is no reason not to own one of their creations, it may just catch you a trophy.
I spoke with Tom of Wang Anchor, and Joe of Carbon Marine. I don’t really feel there is too much need for introduction for these two locals. Their products have been seen all around Florida and beyond, and will make your fishing much easier. I think their businesses are in it for the long haul. I just got my Wang Anchor and love it, you will too.
Breathe Like A Fish from Lakeland were around, and in force as usual. BLAF doesn’t need much of an introduction either. Kent and Bob came up with a pioneering design to compete with standard fishing shirts. Microfiber vented shirts with or without buffs, as well as much more have been seen in many fishing shows and magazines. BLAF is on its way. I forgot to take a pic, but if you follow fishing, I know you’ve seen their stuff.
Captain Joe Hebert was at the show with his arsenal of lures, lures that will catch just about any fish Tampa Bay has to offer. His company is based out of Dunedin, close to the area he also runs charter trips out of. His soft plastics and various weedless hooks, jigheads and spoons kept me busy for quite some time at the show. He has a pretty vast and diverse line of products and they catch fish.
Flat Out Fishin is a local Tampa Bay company run by Troy Antalek. The business produces nicely designed shirts at a modest price. I picked up one of his tarpon shirts and love it, but won’t wear it while fishing, only around town. His designs are fresh compared to other “standard” shirts, and seem geared towards the younger anglers, and there are lots of us. I really liked what I saw at his booth.
Operation Still Waters had a booth with Salty Shores. Operation Still Waters is a non profit organization that is doing some real good for injured ex law enforcement, firefighters and military personnel. Currently they are hoping to be taking these deserving folks on fishing trips to our waters with local captains. I wish them all the best, they are good people.
Overall I had a good time at the show and probably missed a few great new companies out there, but I feel some of the best were highlighted above. I wish them all well. I’m looking forward to see them around at the upcoming shows and beyond.