The team at Swimbait Universe has announced that the fourth annual iteration of The Gathering, the largest swimbait-focused event east of the Mississippi River, in late September at Rockahock Campground in Virginia on the shores of the Chickahominy River. The showcase event of the weekend will be a consumer-focused trade show on Saturday the 24th. There will also be a swimbait-only tournament on Sunday the 25th. Based on past precedent, the group expects swimbait fanatics and many of the major players in that subculture to start arriving mid-week for socializing and fishing.
“When we started this in 2019, we didn’t know what to expect, but it has exceeded our plans, and continues to grow each year,” said Wayne Campbell, a Swimbait Universe administrator and organizer of the event. “Not just our number of visitors, but also the number and breadth of our exhibitors, and the distance from which they’re willing to travel.”
Indeed, the Universe expects to have at least 25 swimbait companies and affiliated entities, like rod builders, at this year’s Gathering. They’ll include noted small-scale manufacturers such as Pizz Swimbaits, Lanciotti Lures, Reckless Rodents, Phoney Frogs, and of course Mike Bucca’s Bull Shad. This is an opportunity to obtain not only generally hard-to-purchase lures, but also some items which may be one-of-a-kind. Last year, attendees started lining up at 6am in the rain to get first crack at some of their most-coveted items, and while the shopping was fierce, no one left empty handed or completely disappointed.
“Some people have compared this to a min-ICAST of swimbaits,” said Chad Meenan, another Swimbait Universe administrator. “Whether you’re a hard core big bait freak or just want to see what it’s all about, this is the event for you, and it’s really convenient for anyone up or down the east coast. It’s a chance to meet people you might only know from social media, and to get a better sense of how and why big baits can be deadly. The social aspect is as important as the purchasing opportunities.”
For those unable to make this event, Swimbait Universe has already announced plans for a similar gathering at Lake Fork in April of 2023.
Exhibitor space is still available for both events.
For additional information, go to the Swimbait Universe Facebook page.