What’s involved in learning how to become a pro angler?
Chances are that, if you’ve been fishing for more than a few years and scored a few sizable trophies along the way, you’ve thought about fishing as a professional pursuit. After all, what could be better than spending your days catching fish, meeting other passionate fishing enthusiasts, gaining fans, and winning money along the way? However, if you have your mind set on a professional fishing career, you have quite the road ahead of you.
When most anglers dream of fishing professionally, they jump right to envisioning themselves in a situation that is a career apex for many a professional fisherman: the Bassmaster Classic. With a $500,000 grand prize and a wealth of media attention, reaching the Bassmaster Classic is perhaps the ultimate dream of any person who considers him or herself a die hard bass angler.
However, the Bassmaster Classic isn’t an easily attainable goal: for how many people who dream of becoming a professional angler, only about 50 or 60 of them make it to the Bassmaster Classic in any given year. Subtract the slots that are filled by returning veterans – like the great Kevin VanDam, who won the event four times between 2001 and 2010 alone – and your chances of making the Bassmaster Classic become depressingly slim.
There are three general qualifying paths to the Bassmaster Classic for amateur anglers: the first is the Bassmaster Weekend Series. This series holds fishing competitions and events all over the nation, with some of them likely happening very close to you. If you perform well on a consistent basis, you may have a chance of advancing through numerous rungs of local, regional and national championships to claim a spot in the Classic. There can only be one winner, but if it’s you, you not only get a spot in the most prestigious fishing competition on the planet, but you also win $100,000. Not bad for a weekend warrior.
The other two amateur qualifying paths are the Federation Nation and the small number of Bassmaster Opens that take place each year. While qualifying rules are slightly different for each, both can get you a spot in the Bassmaster Classic – and help you toward a professional classification, with sponsors and all – if you can advance through the tournaments and fight your way to the top.
Does all of this mean that you should give up your dream of becoming a professional angler? Absolutely not. Even guys like VanDam were once little more than dreamers like you, and look where those professionals are now. However, if you want to attain success, you are going to need to work at it. Fish in the summer and fish in the fall; fish with your college or university club or join a local fishing club to get more competitive opportunities; spend every weekend, vacation, and spare moment fishing. If you are going to make it to the Bassmaster Classic, you are going to need to live and breathe this sport.
If you think you have the passion and drive to make a grab for professional fishing fame and glory, though, you had might as well get started now. Join a club and register with B.A.S.S. (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) to start building your cred and experience with local tournaments.