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Dennis Bryant's Answer:
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 accomplish!

(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!

Charles Stuart's Answer:
Professional fishing is a tough way to make a living. You need a supportive family and an employer who will give you the time off from work you will need to practice and perfect your fishing skills, unless of course you are independently wealthy!

You will have to prove yourself on the tournament circuit with local and regional tourneys. With a track record of wins or high placing, you can then look for sponsorship at a local and then national level.

Sponsorship is vital in your decision making and you must remember that product only sponsorships will not pay the bills. You will have to build a resume and be able to offer the sponsors something that others who want to do the same as you, cannot offer.

It is also a good idea to give your free time to your local Boy Scout troops and government agency fishing departments, by offering free fishing demonstrations to teach those who want to learn this wonderful sport.

Read my article called, So You Want To Turn Pro? I think it will answer a lot of your questions.

Leo Watson's Answer:
Good morning Gary and thank you for the question. This is one that I frequently get asked at the shows that I do. to start off with, I will tell you this. There is more and more information available about bass fishing every day. The way most of us started out is by first fishing in your local club tournaments. When you get where you consistently are doing well move on to your State B. A. S. S. tournaments. When you get where you are successful at that level the next step would be your area Red Man or Operation Bass tour. Then the next level would be your professional level. All of this takes a lot of time and patients. The only one who can control how fast you accomplish this feat is you. With the information available to the public now anyone with the determination and patients can become a professional. One thing you may want to consider is that fishing is only one part of being a professional angler. There is much more to the job than most people realize. I wish you luck.

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