Note: Parts of this story are fabricated. In fact, the whole premise is. But the products are definitely real.
Warning: Do not picture this at home or anywhere else for that matter.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Hey, it's Vegas right? If it was going to fly anywhere, this was the place.
Maybe I was still a little (a lot) out of it from the night before, but I thought even this was beyond my capabilities.
Regardless of the culprit, there I stood, butt-naked in front of 7,000 people, including 431 exhibitors staring from 1,350 booths on the ICAST 2008 floor. You may not know what I look like, and you are thus blessed. We'll leave it at that.
Still a little hazy, I lumbered my way to the new products section in search of new clothes, which I thought was a pretty rational thought from the naked guy. Three women actually passed out in disgust and one member of the media was sure he had just taken the million dollar shot of Big Foot.
I rounded the corner onto the red carpet lining of the new product showcase floor, creating quite the contrast. ICAST Best of Show would be decided there eight hours later. The worst show in Vegas had just entered.
There are two 20 foot long tables of clothes in the new products section, none of which featured any underwear. Doing everybody a favor, I started with some shorts.
There were six different options, but I decided to go with Old Harbor Outfitters Big Rock Fishing Shorts (khaki) because they looked pretty fly. It turns out they're useful too.
"There are 10 pockets and the fabric has a scotch guard treatment," said Jessica Zonarich, Director of Conservation for OHO. "All of our shorts are double needle point stitched."
I don't know what double needle point means, but it sounds sturdy. The shorts, useful in both saltwater and freshwater fishing, also come with a killer shark trim pattern on the inside and a stretch crotch panel (leaving that one alone).
Old Harbor Outfitters, which is a little over two years old, says its clothing is "made by fishermen for fishermen." One of the aforementioned makers is Director of Development Peter Ostroske.
"They're very fishing specific, but they actually look like a normal pair of shorts," Ostroske said. "Fishermen have a lot of gear and things that need to go places. These shorts accommodate those needs and can hold up through the wear and tear."
With the worst behind me, now looking like I'm at the pool (not at Le Cap d'Agde), it was time to find a fishing friendly shirt.
Really, with not a lot of options, I put on the only shirt for men on the table. Habana Company's 1013-Marlin Tee. It turns out it's 100 percent cotton and offers UPF 50 protection without the use of any chemicals.
With that, the people officially stopped staring — except for that one guy with the foot fetish.
There weren't a lot of options, but there could have been hundreds and I might have still ended up wearing the Shimano Evair Marine Fishing Shoes, which weigh less than 9 ounces.
"Two years ago, we introduced the boots, last year we introduced the sandal — all we were missing were the shoes," said Ted Sakai, creator of the new Shimano shoes. "This is not for casual wear. This is a fishing shoe."
That kind of sucked for my plan of wearing them around the show until I looked down at Mr. Sakai's feet. He was wearing the shoes and he definitely wasn't fishing.
"I've been testing them for three months now and I can't get rid of them," he said. "They are too comfortable — especially at a show like this."
The shoes also included a removable sole made of the same foam-like material (EVA - Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) as the shoe, which meant, like the shoe, it wouldn't stain.
Sakai's favorite accessory, judging by the smile on his face as he described it, was the metal ring on the top center of the shoe. He said he uses it to help him tie his hooks when saltwater fishing.
"We can't say that's what it's for, but that's how I use it," he said.
Not mincing words, I'm bald and I need a hat. I'm actually going bald, which creates random patches of awkward looking hair, meaning I really need a hat.
There were two options. One had a big marlin chasing a fly — that's a big no. The other was torn to look old and featured a big bass on the front. I need a hat. Winner: Keeping It Real Bass AH — 106 hat Mossy Oak alive.
I was actually pretty comfortable and could have hit the floor, but there was one item on the table that seemed a necessary accessory.
It was a sweatshirt with a beer/beverage holder built in. It's a 101 degrees outside — I put on a sweatshirt. More specifically, I put on the Hannibal Outdoor Beverage Hoodie.
"Basically, we came up with the idea out of necessity," said Hannibal Offshore representative John Ryan Heatly. "Your trying to tie your line and the boat's all rocking. You set your beer down and it keeps tipping over — big waste of beer.
"People are using it for other things too: pliers, sunglasses, coke — maybe a water bottle … maybe."
Fully dressed, I attacked the ICAST floor, never to be looked at the same.