After seeing these B.A.S.S. Elite pros display multitudes of giant smallies — which many of us would consider mounting — during the 4-day tournament out of Green Bay, it can give an angler pause to think about how much fun it would be to fish for a living.
You have to admit the office would be an upgrade for all but 1% of us, you get cheered for catching fish and you can even pick a song to play while your fish are weighed on stage. (Mine would be ‘Back In Black.’)
So what exactly are the job qualifications?
After spending time as a B.A.S.S. marshal with Dean Rojas and Denny Brauer last week here’s how I would write a job description:
Must be a morning person (as in 4 a.m. early), able to stand in hot sun for at least 7 hours a day, capable of repeatedly casting ounces of weight within a frog’s hair of intended target, willingness to be tossed around like a rag doll during long boat rides, travel time is extensive, able to negotiate contracts, self promoter, able to handle infrequent pay days and under all circumstances be pleasant with fans, even if they want to show you all the photos of their fish they have stored on their phones.
I asked Denny about making a career as a pro because I can think of few people more qualified to answer that question. He won the 1998 Bassmaster Classic, won 17 tournaments including an Elite series event last year and cashed more than $2.5 million in checks from B.A.S.S. tournaments.
He sees plenty of guys who are excellent anglers and others who are good promoters.
“You can earn a decent living being good at one or the other, but you need to be able to do both to make a good living,” he said.
Long hours of fishing combined with working trade shows, speaking engagements, tv appearances and other commitments to establish yourself are all equally important.
Furthermore, depending on where the events set up any given year, it can be tough on an angler because even though the pros are skilled in a wide range of techniques, they still have strengths and weaknesses. It can be a tough year if the tournaments set up on bodies of water that don’t play to those strengths.
In reality much of the winnings go back into the expenses of being a pro angler for items such as travel, lodging, repairs and equipment — which is why sponsorships are so important.
The joy of playing out a fish or feeling that tug on the other end of the line, which is most of the fun for the average angler, gets replaced by the search itself and figuring out the pattern.
After Dean had a smallie take off drag for a minute or two before finally landing what looked to be at least a 4-lb. smallie, I said something really insightful like, “that’s fun, huh?”
“No,” he replied with a quiet but friendly manner.
I suppose when there’s $100,000 on the line my definition of fun would change.
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