Shimano Pro-Staff Summit 2019

 

The moment I arrived at Shimano headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina I was hit with a profound realization. The realization was that the anglers I was meeting and catching up with would be the same people I will tell fishing stories with and stay in touch with for the better part of my life and career as a professional angler. I watched this in play as the anglers all met in the Shimano foyer. We were catching up, life updates, fishing expeditions, and thoughts about what the week ahead would bring.

The Shimano Pro-staff summit was a select group of Shimano teammates who would gather so Shimano could get to know us, and we could get to know Shimano a little bit better. The crew included top television personalities across the U.S., Master Brand Advocates such as me, and an overwhelming crew of Professional Bass Anglers. Even as many of us were meeting for the first time, there is a common way of seeing the world we all shared immediately. It just happens in the fishing industry, no matter how different you are as an angler. From saltwater fishing far off the east coast to small stream fishing under a forest canopy; the physical views are a world apart, but the world view is the same. We earn our livelihood from fishing and deeply care about everything that fishing encompasses. Because of this, we speak the same language. Beyond the love of fishing, we are all bonded by another significant attribute.

We execute at the highest level possible while leveraging the best fishing equipment available, period. Shimano rods and reels are at the least good enough for this group to allow it to be the foundation of their livelihoods. Specific equipment, as it turns out, would be the hottest topic of conversation on our first day together. After introductions, a tour of the Shimano factory, and reel and rod training, we gathered for a market trend conversation. Each pro was tasked with considering market trends and coming to the table with individual needs for each region. The likelihood of a more qualified group of individuals for this task is slim to none. Immediately conversation was rich with rod and reel needs, with feedback, and with the depth of understanding within each respective region. The bass conversation became so enriching that they split off and started their own quorum. Perhaps the most impactful part of the pro staff summit was the opportunity to give direct input to the Shimano team, knowing there is a solid chance we would see our suggestions on a retail shelf at some point. Who better to make those decisions than the people that use the product to the very extreme? While the rod and reel conversations were hard to pull away from, vans awaiting departure for downtown Charleston for dinner made us a bit more agreeable.

Low Country Boil

During one of the meals, I was lucky enough to sit across from Dave Pfeiffer, the president of Shimano North America. We engaged in conversation about various fisheries quickly, and the conversation turned to advocacy. I asked Dave if Shimano had a specific department that focused on advocacy, mostly because I wanted to ask him if I could be a part of that. Personally, I see my work as a professional fishing guide and outdoor personality as a gateway to conservation. When I take people outside and they experience the beauty of the rainforest and the joy of fishing, they begin to relate and care about places in a new way. If Shimano had some space for a fishing kid to get involved on a larger scale, I wanted to know about it. Dave's answer was a smirk, then he said through a smile we will talk about advocacy and exactly how you can get involved during the presentation tomorrow.

“To promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us.” -Shimano Mission Statement

 

Two things about the presentation on advocacy at Shimano you should know about.

1)      Shimano puts their money where their mouth is. They show up for important organizations like CCA, Building Conservation Trust, Harte Research Institute, Keep America Fishing, and Keep Florida Fishing- notable there are only a small handful of other companies that do advocacy support the way Shimano does. (Like, three others) Shimano believes in science-based management, and that access for all is significant!

2)      The president gave the presentation. The presentation could have been given by anyone. I could have read the slides for this presentation. Dave Pfeiffer giving the presentation is significant because it makes the following statement.

When it matters most- We. Show. Up.

 

Moreover, as soon as Dave’s presentation about advocacy ended, the team went outside to assist South Carolina CCA and the Department of Natural Resources in a conversion project.

Turns out when you recycle oyster shells, bag them into the black mesh bags below and place them on coastlines a few significant things happen.

·         Oysters will build upon them, and oysters filter an average of fifty gallons of water a day and up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour

·         Coastlines are reinforced, preventing erosion

·         Fish habitat is created from the oyster shells

After getting our sleeves dirty (because you can’t talk about advocacy without rolling em up), it is only appropriate to have an Oyster Roast and cookout!

 

Of course, I am looking forward to Pro Staff Summits for years to come. Eventually and hopefully, there will a young woman there listening to Captain Ben Powers and I talk about the ‘way back when’s’ the way I listened Carter Andrews talk about his days rowing a drift boat just like mine.

Until next time, we disembark!

 

Bad Ash