So you want to become a professional Bass fisherman! You see; I
love Bass-fishing too! And actually, I'm still pretty darned good
at it! (If I do say so myself!) I just don't like to do it as a
"JOB", any more! Please; allow me tell you a story before you set
your sites on becoming a 'pro'!
For the first 2 years I was tournament-fishing for cash; I wondered
that same thing as you. What does it take to become a professional
at this sport? And, I never could get a straight answer! One day,
the tournament director at a tournament that I'd just taken a
1st place finish in, told me that I was already listed on his
records as a 'pro'. It seemed as though back then, just placing
1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in a 'big-cash' tournament, meant that you were
considered a professional angler from that point on. ("BIG-CASH"
Tournament ~~ HA!) Some of today's' 'Open Tournaments' have 1st-place-finish
money bigger than the entire tournament purses were back then!
That was back in the early 70's! Today it's a totally different
story! Sort of!
Today: to get "professional angler credentials":
(THE EASY WAY) Just call yourself a "Tournament-Professional";
and go out and recruit some sponsors gullible enough to be willing
to take a chance on your possible future in the sport; in return
for 'pushing' their products. Ideally, the sponsor(s) pay all
of your fishing expenses; while you spend every minute of your
time on the water, fishing for cash! Of course 'off-season', you
work FOR the sponsor! Like it or not! (OR, you need to be just
plain independently wealthy, and do whatever you want to do!)
(THE EASY WAY TO CALL YOURSELF A "REGISTERED PROFESSIONAL ANGLER")
Join the Tournament Professionals Association or Professional
Tournament Anglers' Association. Membership in one or the other
is sometimes required to register as a 'working-professional'
in some Tournament-Circuits. (usually just a small yearly fee,
unless you join the retirement plan of either)
(THE EASY WAY TO MAKE SURE OF AN INCOME WHILE YOU FISH 'PROFESSIONALLY)
Become a licensed fishing guide. Or become a 'rent-a-guide' through
your local-marina "pro". (Coast Guard and/or State licensing is
required to be officially recognized as a 'working-professional'
fishing guide) This also helps to fill in those 'empty' hours,
days, weeks, or sometimes even months, between tournament paychecks.
That sort of makes you recognize what REALLY drives your intentions.
(THE HARD WAY) Or, you can actually learn how to fish the right
way! Spend 100 to 200 days a year learning how to fish every lure
in your tackle-box. Become a good enough fisherman to be competitive
at it. Use the knowledge you've gained to win some cash from your
buddies. Get into some 'open' 'Buddy-Tournaments' with a friend
to learn the rules of organized Sportfishing, and just plain get
a 'taste' of REAL fishing competition. If you still think you're
good enough; try a few 'draw' tournaments on a Tournament-Circuit.
If you have what it takes after that, the sponsors you'll need,
will find you. This takes a lot-o-time and lots-o-hard work to
(THE HARDEST WAY) Join a State B. A. S. S. Federated "Fishing
Club'. Fish all of the clubs' tournaments, and win, place, or
show, at every tournament you fish. (You sure won't think that
this is so easy after you've butted heads with some of these guys
on the water, year after year!) Then just make it through the
'Regionals', 'States', and 'Nationals' in the Federation competitions
as an individual angler. ONLY THEN, can you fish the 'slot' you've
earned at the "BASSMASTERS' CLASSIC", by doing all of the above.
But, now you have to place in the 'top-10' finishers at the 'CLASSIC'.
(This has the effect of bringing all the sponsors to you, instead
of you having to chase them down!) THEN, you join the B. A. S.
S. Pro-Circuit, and fish all-season, every-season, until you just
can't stand to fish as a "full-time job" anymore.
Now, do you still want to become a "pro"? It's a fantastic lifestyle!
Up until it becomes a job, that is! It becomes a job when you
realize that you're only at home for maybe 1 or 2 days a month.
And it's been three months since you last took your wife out to
eat. And your kids don't recognize you when you walk in the door.
And, you've just got to place in the 'top five' at the next tournament.
Or else you won't be able to pay for gas for the truck or boat
to get to the tournament after that one, or even to get back home.
If you don't win, or at least make a good showing, regularly,
the sponsors drop you. Just how long is that little 'nest-egg'
that you put aside for this, going to last if you have to pay
all the bills, and entry fees too? Is it still worth it?
Remember only one person out of 10,000 anglers, makes it as a
touring professional-angler for more than two years! And, after
competitive fishing; what happens to you next? Well you can always
retire, and become a big fishing-lure company's Manufacturers'
Rep., or a lure designer for that same lure company, or, just
have fun, and make your own lures and teach folks how to fish
and catch fish!
Just in case you couldn't tell, I was a 'pro'. Now I teach the
sport of fishing. (to folks that want to learn the THE SPORT!)
I also make some great fishing lures for both amateurs & professional
tournament anglers! And you know what? (and this is THE best part)
I have fun fishing again!
You love Bass-fishing? Great! Get good at it! Competition adds
spice to it; but it doesn't improve it! Just have fun doing it!
If that takes you on the tournament-circuits; have fun with that!
Just don't ever let it become just a "day-job" to you! That's
when you'll lose your edge, and it stops being FUN!