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So, You Want to be a Pro?
By Paul Crawford

I get a lot of email from anglers who have read my articles on the web. Although most all of it is enjoyable, the ones I love the best, and that I take the most serious, are the ones from the young anglers. They are the future of the sport, the most eager to learn, and many times the best students. One letter I seem to get every couple of weeks is the one seeking advice on how to become a professional angler. I've answered that in many parts and in many ways. I thought it might be nice to look at the subject in this forum and summarize some the thoughts I've had and some of the good advice I've read from other experienced anglers on the subject.

The first thing to consider is, of course, if you are cut out to be a pro angler! More than anything, you must be a people person. You have to love to talk to people, teach people, listen to people, the kind of person that never met a stranger. If you're not at ease with people you haven't met, if you're not open minded, if you don't enjoy meeting and talking to new people from all walks of life and backgrounds, then Stop Right Here! (I promise you have no chance to make it as a pro.) You need a cool level head in stressful situations and be able to act in a practical manner in an emergency. An analytical mind also helps. You probably will be the kind of person that likes math and working with computers, (either of which will pay much better than angling), and you probably like doing puzzles of any type. A good head for business is also necessary to make it. You'll be on a really tight budget for a number of years and you can't afford to make the wrong decision, (Business managers also make more than anglers.) You need to be in good physical shape and able to actively work on your feet for hours at a time without getting tired. It will also help if you like working on things with your hands. You should kind of like to work on your own car or maybe wood working as a hobby, (Mechanics are also paid better than anglers.) And probably the least important yet absolutely necessary qualification is that you love to fish and are excellent at it.

So, we'll assume from here on out the personality description fits you and that you kind of like poverty. You've committed to go pro and need to know how to do it, or at least get a pretty good clue. First realize the business you're going into: private business owner / operator; advertising pitch man and consultant; salesman; teacher; financial planner; travel agent; marine rigging and repairman; rescue worker; biologist; and last (and least) fisherman. If you overlook any one of your jobs, you're doomed to fail. As you might expect, nobody is particularly interested if you catch fish. What everyone is interested in is if you can teach them to catch fish. If you can, then clients and sponsors will beat a track to your door, if you let them know where your door is.

Part 1. Getting Ready.

Like all small businesses, the better the preparation, the better your chance of success. If you're serious about being a pro, then I'd recommend starting up slow, getting your experience, and getting a collage degree while you're at it. There are a tremendous number of things you need to know, and a good collage can teach you a lot of it. Depending on your particular interest, there are several degree programs you could major in. If it were me, I'd go with something along the lines of Communications Major, Advertising, Business Management, Accounting, or a combination of all of the above, (I'd try for a few courses in all of the areas.) A minor in Biology or Fisheries Management would help. If you're not particularly good with computers, then a few electives in computer based accounting and planning would be useful. It's not so much the degree, (although that never hurts), as it is the knowledge. You're betting your future, along with your family's, on you ability to run a smart business, take it seriously.

While all of the course work is going, it's time to put together the tools of the trade. Obviously a boat and tow vehicle will be required. A computer with a good office suite is almost as important for the professional. Then you have all of your gear to collect. And don't forget the licenses, insurance, and permits you'll need as well. A few bucks for a lawyer should also be in the start up costs.

First, the boat. You can get by initially with a 16' boat with maybe a 90 hp motor, but very quickly you'll want to move into a 20' class probably with a 200+ hp motor. And if you make your living out of a boat, then a reliable, well maintained boat is a must, (with a broke boat, you may not eat.) Ranger boats have been a traditional favor brand of the pros, not for the name, but because at least the older ones were built like a tank. They aren't fast, and not as sexy as some, but they will take a pounding and be back for more tomorrow. Keep the motor absolutely, dead nuts, stock. You are interested in reliability and keeping costs down, not going fast. Get a full set of gauges, and use them. In particular, an hour meter is useful to make absolutely sure the engine service is up to date and done to manufacturer's recommendations. While you're at it, worry about the storage of your rig a little. Having a nice, clean, organized boat is not merely a matter of pride, it's your work place and you need to protect it. Even if you're on a limited budget, figure out how to put up some type of shed or roof over your boat to protect it and get as good of boat cover as you can find. And, please, keep it locked up. Your customers and sponsors really won't care if you boat was stolen before they write you off.

Tow vehicles give you bit more latitude. A new truck is nice, but not necessary. It does have to be reliable, (again a stranded customer doesn't care why), and clean. A nice looking truck can be used as a mobile billboard, a source of valuable sponsor income. Depending on you location, you may or may not care about 4WD but a sport utility type is usually a better choice than a pickup. The added storage and passenger capacity is useful in your line of work. Like your boat and motor, make sure to keep the maintenance current and it's always cheaper in the long run to take care of any problems as soon as you detect them instead of waiting to get stuck somewhere.

As a small business man, the personal computer is a Godsend. You'll need some way to keep track of expenses, income, schedules, phone numbers, fishing logs, orders, reservations, sponsor letters, and of course, taxes. You are selling your time along with your fishing knowledge, so time is valuable to you. Get a computer adequate to run typical office applications and learn how to use it. Keep back ups of all of your files and set aside time every day to keep the records straight and up to date.

No job is over, (or in this case started), before the paper work is done. Your state may require a license to operate on public waters. You'll definitely want to protect yourself with commercial liability insurance, and the state may require you post a bond as well. You can do all of this as a Sole Proprietor business, but it may be to your tax advantage to file as a small corporation or a limited partnership with other pros or family members. Check with a lawyer and/or tax advisor before filing for all of permits. If you're going to be a professional, conduct yourself as one and don't even think about cutting corners. The penalties of trying to fly by the seat of your pants could cost you everything you have or even land you in jail. It's a painful, expensive thing to set up your business, but it's absolutely necessary to do it right. I could cite any number of tragedies I've seen over the years where something unexpected came up totally out of the control of the pro, and they ended up paying for it for years to come. You may find other pros on the water that run an under the table operation, and by cutting corners, under cut your prices or steal sponsors with less than market value packages. It's true in any business, but these guys are amateurs and no real threat to your business, so ignore them and wish them well. The true pros will come out on top in the long run every time.

One of the better ways to look at the finances is that your banker is your first, and most important sponsor. Unless you're of independent means, you'll need some serious financial help getting started, (Boats and Trucks aren't cheap.) If you're going to get the bank to go along with this, you'll have to approach it as a business transaction. If you just show up and say you'd like to finance a boat to open a professional fishing service and don't have a sound plan, you'll get thrown out on your ear just as soon as the banker can stop laughing long enough. On the other hand, if you go in knowing all of the expenses (with documentation), have a good plan for a reasonable steady income, have thought out all of the details about licenses, insurance, and such, then you'll be pleasantly surprised just how receptive audience you might find. If you conduct yourself as a professional, chances are good you will be received as one. The more detailed and well thought out the plan, the better the chances are of getting financed. Don't approach it as someone wanting to finance a boat or truck, but someone looking for a business loan that will put up the boat as a capital asset for security. You've got a lot of other expenses to worry about, so present them as a package, along with what assets you bring to the business, and show how the business will repay the loan and leave you enough to live on, (something your family will also appreciate.) If you are taking some course work on business management, a Business Plan is you definitely want to learn and maybe have your professor help you with.

Part 2. The Plan.

At this point you must be wondering just where all this stuff is leading. Here is the general game plan. You need some serious experience and would like to get paid for it. The best way I can think of is to go into the Guide Service business. This gets you paid for being on the water. Plan on doing this off and on most likely for the rest of your life. Assuming your idea of "pro" is those guys you see on TV, then serious tournament competition is in your future. There is an entire pyramid you need to climb before you can even think of making a living that way. You've got a ton of work to do before that pays off, (if it ever does.) Then there is the teaching part. You'll be involved with seminars, classes, presentations, all sorts of things that hawk a product, an approach, or just fishing in general. If you're one of the gifted and talented, you'll end up making a good living teaching other people how to fish. If you work hard, you'll at least make a good living.

Nothing is going to be free or easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is! Oh sure, you could get really lucky, nail a couple of giant fish, win some big tournament somewhere, pick up endorsements, and be happy by Tuesday. You could also win the state lottery, and probably have a better chance at that. You can skip some of the hard work if you're independently wealthy, but then this is just an expensive hobby, not a profession. Assuming you're committed, there are dues to be paid and work to do.

There will be basically three stages in your professional career: Guide; Tournament Pro; Teacher. You don't have to do all of them, but it's a rather logical progression. You'll do more of one than another at different stages of your career, but will probably get into all of them at some point. As we go on, we'll look at each one up close and see what to expect.

Getting Geared Up. Okay, it's about time to get to the fishing part. While you're trying to learn all of the business elements, get everything collected, probably hold down a full time job to pay for all this stuff you need to fish. Every opportunity you can make, fish. You need to pick a lake and know it better than you know your girl friend's tattoo. Fish early, fish late, fish at night.

Don't take the lake you pick for granted. It will be your work place so choose carefully and wisely. If you're able, working in the deep south has the obvious advantage of offering year round work. It is also a place people go to in the winter for vacation, and a tourist trade is always a huge plus. If you're planning to get serious about tournament fishing, then choosing a lake where a lot of large tournaments are held will give you a head start. Of course all of the other factors about where to live also apply, (cost of living, available shopping or entertainment, taxes, schools, etc.) You'll find a majority of working pros in either Texas or Florida, both of which are great places to work and live. Unfortunately, you're about 30 years too late to get into the ground floor and have to face some stiff competition for customers. This makes doing your homework all the more important.

A couple of guys that I knew getting ready to open their own business used to make tit o the lake every morning at 4:30. They'd fish until about 7:30, load up and go to work at 9:00. I saw them there every weekend and a couple of nights a week. After a year or so, they had caught just about every bass in that lake so many times they had each one named. By the time they were 25 years old, they had one of the more successful guide businesses in the area from which they both made a good living for their families. They were the 1 in 10 that made it, largely because of their preparation.

It won't do you much good to fish when you want to or when the weather is right. You have to fish in all type of conditions, and look forward to it. Rain, high winds, cold fronts, burning hot summer days without a breath of air, even sleet or snow. If the lake isn't frozen over, get on it. Anyone can catch fish when they are biting on pretty days. The true professional can find a few fish under any type of extreme condition. The only way to learn is to do it. It's also important to learn how to operate the boat safely in all conditions. Your life and the life of your customers will depend on your ability to make the safe call every time. If a thunder storm is in the area, you had damn well better know when it's time to get off the water and to safe shelter, (it also helps to know where the safe shelter is.) If you get caught 20 miles from the ramp in a 30 mph wind, you had better know how to best get back to the ramp safely, how to get to safe harbor and then go get the truck 20 miles away, and exactly when to make each choice. If you're on the water every day, it won't take long to figure out there are more windy days each year then calm ones. You had better have a stock pile of places to safely and comfortably fish no matter how hard wind blows or from what direction.

Every one has visions of catching big bass. It's always nice to do that and it can often lead to a big tournament check or a big tip from a paying customer. But big fish are a luxury a professional can rarely afford. You need to reliable catch fish every time the boat hits the water. That normally means dinks, or just barely legal fish. The small ones are aggressive, normally relatively shallow, and need to feed just about every day. As a professional, I'd much rather have 3 or 4 spots where I knew I could stick 1 or 2 dinks every day than have 20 holes where I might catch a big fish.

Part 3. Getting Started.

So you've picked a lake, know it like the back of your hand, can catch fish most every day in most every weather condition, what do you do now? Find a guide service broker. Most of the advertising you see in magazines, on the 'net, and other places are by brokers. A broker takes care of the arrangements, books the trips, sets up the guide, and takes a fee for his effort without ever seeing the water. This may be $25 to $50 a trip, which is cheap for you. Compared to trying running your own ads, running up your phone bill, make your own filers, and all the other things trying attract customers, a commission every trip works out to money in your pocket. In the popular areas, there are lots of brokers. In less popular areas, tackle shops, fish camps, or other fishing related services may also act as a broker. In these cases, you can probably pick up a part time job around the place as well for those many days you're not on the water. You may eventually want to take over the booking yourself, but getting started, a broker is the way to go.

So what does your day look like? It starts about 3:30 getting up, getting your breakfast and preparing a box lunch for you and your customers for the day. Run by the gas station and fill up and get your ice, (remember to ask for a receipt, it's deductible), and head to the bait shop. The majority of guides in areas that allow them will use live bait. The reasons are simple. First, you assume your customers won't have a clue on how to bass fish, (something you need to determine on your courtesy call the night before), and live bait means they really don't have to. There is also the factor you can expect a 50% discount on your daily bait, for which you charge full price, making it an additional source of profit. It seems trivial until you figure wild shiners retail for $1 each and on a good lake you can use 3 dozen, ($18 for your trouble.) While you're there try to cultivate a good relationship with other guides. Exchange information freely. You don't have to tell them everything you know, but never, never, lie. There is plenty of water for everyone and you'll normally get at least as good as you get. Welcome other guides into your areas if you think the area will take the pressure. Areas where bass are schooling is always valuable and appreciated information. You'll very quickly get to know who to trust and who to take with a grain of salt.

Anyway, off to the hotel to pick up the customers and then to the lake. Don't expect any help getting the boat in the water and ready, (you don't want the help from a lot of these guys.) You get the same rate for one or two guests, so expect two at least half the time, (guides are expensive.) Load them up, stick them in life jackets, (insurance requirement), and unless they are experienced and say something about it, drive slow. You can scare the hell out of someone that's not use to a modern bass boat, and it makes a very poor way to start the day.

As you're rigging up and get to your spot, explain in detail everything you're doing and why. These guys are here as much to learn as to fish. Until you're sure of the skill level of the customers, pick easy lures to throw and give them easy rigs to throw it with. Spinner baits, crank baits, or short leader Carolina rigs are always favorites. Save the worms and certainly the Slug-gos until you're sure the customer is ready to handle it. If you're going to fish at all, throw something light and keep away from the prime areas with your lure. It's not important if you catch fish, it IS important the customer does. Move all the way to the front of the boat, (a hand controlled trolling motor is standard for this reason), and keep your live bait moving slowly along the structure, letting the customer fish the shallower water. Instruct the customer to throw towards the front of the boat at an angle. This keeps him from tangling up the live bait lines and makes sure his back cast is moving in some direction other than at you.

Most of the tourist trade will want spinning gear but always keep a Zebco 33 handy in case you get a real newbie or if Dad is out with the kid for the day. I would suggest buying about middle of line gear for guiding. There isn't any reason to spend $400 a rig for someone just learning to cast, but you still want good gear for those who fish regularly. The medium priced gear holds up well to daily use and will be suitable for even tournament level fishermen. My personal favorite is Shimano reels because they take a lot of abuse and don't have a lot of setting for the customers to play with all day. I also normally prefer braided line when I can get away with it. This stuff is fairly easy to pick out backlashes when the reel is set right without harming the line. It will last until the customers get hung up and break off enough to use up the line. And changing out monofilament on 4 rods every night, (and sometime twice each during the day), is both a time consuming pain and expensive.

Keep a conversation going most of the day. Tell stories about the lake, teach them about various lures, tell them about the structure they are fishing, tell them about your family, anything. Fishing can get boring if you're not catching much, and chatting passes the time. The customer will show fairly clearly if they aren't really interested in the conversation. Remember, even for a seasoned tournament type, you have something to teach them. Teach them the lake and local patterns if nothing else. Only rarely will you find someone who isn't interested in learning.

Not everyone furnishes food and drink, but it's always a good way to get a happy customer. One of the points of local knowledge you desperately need to have is the location of all of the public rest rooms you can get to from the water. I've never had a female customer that didn't appreciate that courtesy, and many of the gentlemen also appreciate it. Even if it doesn't bother you, putting ashore for lunch and a stretch is will earn the gratitude of your customer after 4 or 5 hours in the boat. And ALWAYS have sun block on board for the customers. They never remember it and always need it. Of course you'll also need other comfort items such as a good rain suit for each of them, (always carry at least one XXL, it can be too big but too small doesn't help.) A jacket or two is also nice to have on those cool morning for customers coming shorts and a T-shirt. A light weight life jacket with good ventilation is a great idea for customers that don't know how to swim. On those hot summer days, run around a little just for a nice breeze. In the winter, park it for the most part and don't freeze your customers. For heavy weather, get to know which docks are empty or the location of all of the low bridges to get out of the weather. Keep an eye on the sky. The safety of everyone on board is in your hands.

If you don't already know first aid, you better learn quick. Given two inexperienced fishermen in the boat with you, extracting hooks will be a daily occurrence. Cuts, bumps and bruises will keep you busier than most medics. Have a fully equipped first aid kit on board and know how use it. Maybe more important is to know when NOT to use it. Not all hooks can be extracted, and some medical conditions require immediate professional help, know which ones. Know CPR, (I know several guides that have had to use it.) The Red Cross is a good source of information and courses. You might want to get some advise from you doctor. I consider a cell phone or radio mandatory safety equipment as well no matter how small the lake, (also helps when you break down.) Keep emergency services programmed in if the equipment is capable. And show your customers how to use it just in case you're the one that needs help.

Okay, the day is over and you've had a nice 8-10 hours on the water. Get your rig loaded up and the customers back to the hotel. Remember to thank them, ask them to remember the broker for their next trip and ask for you if they had a good time. Many guides in the business for a while actually develop such a referral base they won't take new customers and are booked up a year in advance. Don't forget to get paid. Make sure to show gratitude for any tip included, (occasionally you make more in tips than for your base fee.) Somehow, they will always need to write a check, (made out to the broker), so you need to swing by on the way home, drop of the check, pick up your check, and hurry home before the sun goes down.

Time for maintenance. Clean up your rig, fix anything that broke. You'll need to clean and lube the reels, change the line, sharpen the hooks, and pull maintenance on the truck while you're at it. After a while you'll get good at it and it will take about an hour.

Grab something to eat, clean up, and start the evening business. You need to check in with the broker if you haven't already, let them know how the trip went and get your next client. You've got to call tomorrow's customer, find out if they live bait or artificial only, going for trophies or numbers, etc. If you have other referrals, make contact and work on advanced bookings. File all of your receipts and update your books. Don't forget to fill out the truck's mileage log. Once you have down a system this will only take an hour or so each night. If you've had a good day and a good tip, you'll have between $100 and $150 to show for the day's work, occasionally more, on bad days less.

Well, it should be about 9:00 by now and you've got half an hour to spend with the family before bed time. Three thirty will come early and tomorrow you need to do it all over again. Such is the life of a professional guide.

Part 4. Tournaments.

Most guys trying to turn pro think of tournament fishing. While your guiding, you might find time to fish some local gigs and maybe a regional tournament trail like the Red Man series. Get your experience and time on the water, but don't expect to set the world on fire just because you're a guide.


You need to set up a separate business for this. Keep separate books, expenses, and split the service of your equipment between the two. You need to play this clean as well. Report your winnings because you'll most likely still run at a loss most of the time, (you can use the write off.) If you do cash a big check, you'll need all of the little tournament losses to make up for it.

Never take a client on a prefishing trip for a tournament. You'll want to fish different types of water. When prefishing, you'll want to get a bite then move on before you burn your tournament fish. When guiding, you'll want to set on a hole until it dries up. If you ever try to combine the two you'll end up with a wasted prefishing trip and a very hostile customer, (and most of the time a hostile broker as well.) Tournament fish on your own time, not your customer's.

Oddly enough, professional guides are normally poor tournament fishermen. They get too hung up on fishing shallow water for small fish, which they do every day, to want to spend the time to find the advanced off shore structure and bigger fish that the tournament types target. Plus, if you're on the water 5 days a week working, you may not want to spend your weekends finding a different type of water. And if you work trying to stay relaxed and out of the way, it's hard to concentrate and fish hard come tournament time. Never the less, guides do have all of the experience on the water under all conditions and when they do turn to serious competition, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Your path to professional tournament angling is no different than the weekend fisherman. You have to start local, work in the regional tournaments until you can consistently do well, try to attract some sponsors, then move into national competition. You're added time on the water may shorten the path, but not eliminate it. Remember, 99% of everyone who tries it, fails. Don't set your sights on a goal so lofty you'll feel like a failure if you don't make it. If it happens, it happens. Try hard, work hard, but don't depend on it or risk your family's welfare trying too hard to make it happen.

We could write all day about tournaments, but here we'll move on to much more interesting things, like how to make a living at it. Reference any of the many articles or books on tournament fishing techniques you need. Meanwhile, let's move on to the important stuff for a professional: finances.

Part 5. Sponsors and Teaching.

When it comes to professional fishing, particularly tournament fishing, sponsors make the world go 'round. If you add up the expenses, you'll find out may 4 or 5 guys out of a 500 man tournament actually cover their expenses. On a professional trail, perhaps half a dozen guys will actually show a profit from tournament winnings any given year. What keeps the trails going are the sponsors.

First, let's look at the budget for a typical professional trail. You'll have 6 or 8 tournaments to commit to, but we'll just look at one and then do the math. You'll need to make at least two trips to the tournament site for a good chance to cash a check: one before cut off and then one the week of the tournament. Figure about $200 a week for tow vehicle gas, another $200 for the boat. If you share expenses with other pros on the same trail, (always a great idea), then maybe $75 a day in hotel, meals, and miscellaneous expenses. You'll have between $600 and $2500 in entry fees depending on the trail and the tournament, so figure maybe $1500 average. Add in maintenance on the gear, vehicle and boat, for say, another $200. So, with 10% in reserve, your budget should be about $4,000 per tournament or up to around $30,000 in expenses for the trail and about 4 months you're not working and drawing a pay check. And, of course, tournament season is always right in the middle of the best bass season back home so you're loosing the best guiding days, and tips, of the year. You need help….Bad.

Then look at the attitudes of the sponsors. They are in business to sell products or services to fishermen, and that means you. They ARE NOT in the business of giving money away, and if they were, it still wouldn't be to you. So, if they won't give you money, you're left with the old fashion way, you have to earn it. Here is where those advertising courses pay off. If you know what the sponsors are looking for, then you're in a better position to provide it.

There are all sorts and levels of sponsors. You'll need them all. Start small and work your way up. You can find sponsors even for your guide business if you work at it. If you want to make ends meet, or even wave at each other, you need to learn how to attract them and keep them.

Image is everything. You need to look like a good product spokesman. Grungy fishermen straight off a day on the water need not apply. You need to look neat, confident, and in control. Nothing controversial like beards or long hair. As silly as it might sound, stay in shape. A good athletic look always sells well. TV pitch men are a good example, maybe less the tie. You need to speak well, and be at ease in public, (remember those speech courses and communications?) You're out there representing the image of the company, take it serious, it's your job.

Early sponsors suitable for guide businesses are really a barter arrangement type deal primarily involving discounts. The tackle store gives you your bait a half price for being a regular and sending customers their way. You might find a marine mechanic willing to keep your motor serviced and running in return for advertising space on your boat, motor, or truck. Bait companies may furnish samples for your customers or give you deep discounts for using their baits on trips and maybe wearing the company hat or logo on your shirt. Don't only think about fishing related items. One guy I know gives boat sign space to a Cleaning business in return for doing his wash and dry cleaning. Another guide has a sweetheart deal with a local filling station where his boat was ordered in the company colors and the sign was a decal put under the clear coat, for which he gets free gas and oil at the station. Be creative! You don't know until you ask and all they can say is "no", (a word you'll get use to hearing.)

Next level is where you start asking for a little cash. Instead of sponsoring fishing trips, you normally have better luck sponsoring seminars. You can set up fishing seminars at local sporting goods stores, schools, clubs, just about anywhere. Offer a public seminar some Saturday morning for kids in a public park with a lake. You can approach bait companies, tackle shops, boat deals, etc. to pay you $50 or $100 as a major sponsor and include their name and logo on any fliers or advertising you do, (might try to get a copying company to co-sponsor by providing the fliers.) Radio stations will often advertise for you as a co-sponsor if the seminar is being held at one of their normal advertiser's locations. To hone your seminar skills, start off on your time and nickel. Public schools are always a favorite. Summer time activities many times are coordinated by the city or county providing a willing and interested audience of kids looking for something to do. The more of these you can show on a resume, the better off you'll be attracting sponsors from here on out. Civic organizations or social services like Big Brother / Big Sister are another source of audiences. Get good at this, if you're a tournament pro this will be your new job.

Now comes the time you're ready to graduate. You've won a couple of regional events, maybe have a couple of trial chances at national trails that have come close, have a good resume, a local reputation and some strong local sponsorship. You're operating at a high enough level now where there are no set rules, but there are some guidelines. Don't worry too much about the major manufacturers, they are already sponsoring the top names in the sport and until you've got a win or two under your belt, save your breath. Initially you're looking to offset major expenses, (say entry fees.) It's kind of a chicken and egg problem, until you commit to the national trail, the sponsors won't bite, and without their support, you can't afford to commit. Normally, you go to your best local sponsors and try to bump it up a notch. The local sporting goods store may not have the budget, but their regional office might and the local manager might be talked into putting in a good word or two. If there are locally based national corporations, then national headquarters are always good visits, even if the connection isn't obvious, (worth a shot.) You should have quite a bit of experience at this point of presenting to sponsors and know the type of thing they are looking for. Once you commit, (which may come mostly out of your own pocket the first year or two), then things get a little easier. For example, most major boat and motor manufacturers have memo bill programs. Under this type of sponsorship, a touring pro will agree to exclusively use that brand, proudly wear the shirt and hat, and make a few personal appearances. In return, the start of the year you pick up your boat at the factory and are billed at wholesale on a memo. The bill is due at the END of the year. This means you can use the boat all year, sell it at the end of the year (at a profit if you take good care of it), and use the proceeds to pay the supplier the wholesale price. Then you pick up next year's boat while you're there. Nice deal, fairly easy to get once you're on the trail. Many such deals are available. It doesn't pay your expenses, but does reduce them a bunch. As you get to know other pros on your trail, you'll find other opportunities for sponsors will present themselves. You may never make money casting for cash, but after a few years if you're a good spokesman, at least it will stop costing you much to try.

Well, that's about the best I can do. If you're seriously thinking about becoming a professional, at least you've got and idea of what it's all about. It's certainly not what you see on TV, and there are lots of places to fail and road blocks in the way. But if you're determined, plan it well, and think before acting, you can make a career out of fishing. Best of Luck and put me down for a guide trip in your area.

Paul Crawford

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Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

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Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats