Fishing Industry News: AFTCO New Big Bass Bash Sponsor; Brunswick Hits Records

In the latest fishing industry news, AFTCO signs on with the Big Bass Bash and Brunswick hits records at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Fishing Industry News: AFTCO New Big Bass Bash Sponsor; Brunswick Hits Records

Some of the latest fishing industry news:

AFTCO is the title sponsor for the 2020 Big Bass Bash events at Lake of the Ozarks and Pickwick Lake.

"We are thrilled to have one of the top fishing apparel companies on board with the Big Bass Bash," said Charlie Terrell, co-owner of the Big Bass Bash. "AFTCO represents quality and performance, and their apparel will now be implemented into all of our bonus t-shirts sold at the Lake of the Ozarks and Pickwick Lake Big Bass Bash events."

AFTCO is a family owned and operated company headquartered in Santa Ana, California. AFTCO and the Shedd family contribute more than 10 percent of company profits to fishing conservation to help protect resources and ensure a sustainable fishery for future generations through their 10% Pledge to Protect & Conserve.

The 2020 AFTCO Big Bass Bash at Pickwick/Wilson Lake is scheduled for March 21-22, 2020.

The 2020 AFTCO Spring Big Bass Bash at Lake of the Ozarks will be held on April 18-19, 2020, and the 2020 AFTCO Fall Big Bass Bash at Lake of the Ozarks will be October 3-4, 2020.

Brunswick Hits Records at FLIBS

Brunswick Corporation's Sea Ray, Boston Whaler and Mercury Marine brands set multiple records during the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Sea Ray, which launched a new 320 Sundancer Coupe at the show, saw an 80 percent increase in show sales from a year ago.

Boston Whaler continues to benefit from significant year-over-year sales growth in September and October. Boston Whaler's flagship 405 Conquest and 325 Conquest were introduced, and show sales increased on boats of 33 feet or more.

For the third consecutive year, Mercury Marine substantially grew unit share at the show. In addition, the company said for the first time, more than half of the engines in the on-water portion of the show at the Bahia Mar were Mercurys. Several OEM’s showcased new partnerships with Mercury, while others increased the percentage of Mercury outboards and sterndrives on their boats.

“Fort Lauderdale is one of the largest and most important boat shows in the world and an opportunity for Brunswick to showcase new products and new technologies from our premium boat brands and Mercury Marine,” said Dave Foulkes, Brunswick Corporation chief executive officer. “The tremendous success we had is a great confidence builder for the 2020 season.”

Brunswick said Boston Whaler’s premiere of the new flagship 405 Conquest and 325 Conquest, and Sea Ray’s premier of the 320 Sundancer Coupe were met with a tremendous customer response, and the 405 is already sold out for the next year.

Foulkes also announced that Brunswick will make its debut as an exhibitor at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10. Brunswick will highlight its marine technology leadership and illustrate how its ACES strategy which provides an umbrella for its initiatives in autonomy, connectivity, electrification and shared-access will help define the future of the marine industry.

Morris Joins Pursuit Boats as Marketing Manager

Megan Foley Morris has joined Pursuit Boats as marketing manager.

Morris has experience in marketing, public relations, advertising, publishing and event planning across multiple platforms, including more than 10 years in the marine industry. Morris will work closely with Pursuit’s director of marketing, Amy Gobel, as the company expands its facilities,  staff, brand and product line.

“We are happy to welcome Megan Morris aboard as marketing manager,” said Gobel, who was promoted to director of marketing in 2019. “Megan’s marketing acumen will be instrumental to our team as we work to further build the Pursuit brand through strategic marketing campaigns and explore innovative ways to communicate the Pursuit lifestyle and the distinctions that make our boats the best in the industry.”

In her role, Morris will coordinate with the marketing and design teams to create advertising plans, both digital and print, plan and manage photo shoots and other events, such as boat shows, and work directly with the sales team and dealers. A south Florida native, Morris also will communicate with local media to build the Pursuit brand regionally.

Bahamas-themed Shirts Spur Dorian Relief Donation

Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick Corporation, has announced that proceeds from sales of a special, Bahamas-themed t-shirt have resulted in a donation of more than $15,000 to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.

With a pledge to donate the profits, Mercury began offering the shirt at its apparel website,, shortly after Dorian hit the Bahamas in early September 2019. The shirt was in such high demand that Mercury decided to keep it available through mid-November.

“Many of our customers were affected by the storm and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help,” said Michelle Dauchy, Mercury Marine chief marketing officer. “Threds, Inc., our partner in hosting and managing the Mercury Dockstore, played a huge role in conceiving this initiative and spooling it up quickly. The generosity of everyone who purchased the shirt, many of whom were inspired by some outstanding social media engagement by Mercury’s partners, made this fundraising effort a big success.”

The role of social media was particularly prevalent among the powerboat racing community. An effort dubbed the “Hurricane Dorian Relief Social Media Challenge,” launched by Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, quickly gained momentum.

“There was a snowball effect,” said Stuart Halley, general manager of Mercury Racing, a division of Mercury Marine. “Nor-Tech provided the t-shirts to its employees, who wore the shirts and gathered in front of one of their boats for a photo. The company posted the photo on Facebook with a challenge to fellow luxury performance boat builder Marine Technology, Inc. to do likewise. From there, the challenge spread to Fountain Powerboats, Cigarette Racing Team, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, DCB Performance Boats and even powerboating media outlet”

The shirts featured Mercury Marine branding, a line drawing map of the Bahamas, the Bahamian national flag, and the words, “2019 HURRICANE DORIAN RELIEF.”

With sustained winds of 185 mph, Dorian was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the Bahamas. The storm transited the island nation at an excruciatingly slow pace, lashing it with Category 5 winds for more than 22 hours and causing up to $3 billion in damage.

Wheeler Joins frogg toggs Prostaff

Professional angler Jacob Wheeler, the 2019 Major League Fishing champion, has joined the frogg toggs Pro Staff.

Wheeler joins Bobby and Chris Lane, Andy Morgan, Keith Poche, David Mullins, Jay Kendrick, Cajun Phil Broussard, Rusty Creasey, and the Duck Commander team including John Godwin and Justin Martin.

The frogg toggs Pro Staff is comprised of hunting and fishing professionals from diverse geographic regions.

Wheeler's success began at a young age in junior fishing programs. In 2011, Wheeler made history as the youngest angler, at 20 years old, to win the BFL All-American. In 2012, his rookie year on the FLW Tour, he claimed a wire-to-wire win at the FLW Outdoors Forest Wood Cup and set a record as the youngest champion.

In 2019 while competing with Major League Fishing, Wheeler won the Bass Pro Tour Stage Seven on Table Rock Lake and the General Tire World Championship.

Thule Acquires Denver Outfitters

Thule Group has acquired Denver Outfitters, a maker of roof rack mounted fly fishing rod vault carriers.

Denver Outfitters, based in Denver, had an annual revenue of less than $1 million in 2019. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“The recreational fishing category is a large global category in the outdoor industry, with close to 50 million participants in North America alone,” said Magnus Welander, CEO and president of the Thule Group. “Although fly fishing is the smallest fishing category, it is the fastest growing and anglers often travel and enjoy their fishing experience together.

"Being able to bring your fishing rods safely and easily is key for these consumers and the best way to do so is with fishing rod vaults mounted on the roof racks on the car. The team at Denver Outfitters have developed market leading products and with the mutual philosophies on high quality, smart engineering and great design, as well as a shared passion for the outdoors, the products are a natural fit to our portfolio.”

Blaylock Joins Academy Prostaff

Academy Sports + Outdoors, title sponsor of the 50th Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville, announces its partnership with Elite Series angler Stetson Blaylock for the 2020 fishing season.
“We’re thrilled to work with a professional as passionate about fishing as Stetson,” said Lawrence Lobpries, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “As a pro angler and avid outdoorsman, he represents our commitment to the outdoors and the assortment of products we offer in-store and online. Stetson has proven to be a contender on the water and a force in the field, and we’re excited to add him to the team and be part of his continued success.”
Blaylock entered the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2017 following a successful 10-year run on the FLW Tour. He is the youngest pro to win an FLW tournament event and is rising quickly in the Elite Series ranks, including a first-place win at Winyah Bay in 2019 to go along with three second-place and 11 Top-10 finishes since he entered the series in 2017.

“I’m excited to represent Academy Sports + Outdoors this upcoming season,” said Blaylock. “Whether I’m headed out on the water or to the field, I can find what I need at the best prices at Academy. They’ve been my go-to for weekend adventures for years, and I look forward to a long-standing partnership with them.”


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