This blog post is going to be a little different than others. In a lot of posts I try to teach about a technique or certain piece of tackle, but today I want to talk about how I'm paying my dues in the tournament world. This "paying my dues" statement is figurative and literal. This is going to be a pretty candid look into my tournament success, or lack there of, over the past few years.
I've been fishing pro/am events for the past few years. I've yet to feel some sort of consistency in knowing when or if I am going to be able to fish an event. It has all boiled down to money. Do I have the money to actually fish the tournament? At the start, I went too hard too fast. I should have fished less events because it put me in a financial hole, I thought powering through was going to help me get to cashing checks sooner, but it didn't happen. If I could go back in time, I would have picked one or two events per year, and focused on just those events. I would have researched more, pre-practiced more, and hopefully been in a better position going into the tournament. This approach would have allowed me to be less concerned about finances because my overall expenditures wouldn't have been as large.
I've been hearing a lot lately that if money is holding you up, then you don't love it enough. I agree with this statement to a point, but at the same time money is a huge factor. If you don't have $800 - $1700 for an entry fee, then you can't fish the tournament. Maybe you have enough for the entry fee, but if don't have the money for gas, a boat, the hotel , food, or tackle, you aren't going to be able to fish.
There's a difference between not having the money, and preferring not to spend the money. In this situation, I agree with the statement about not loving it (fishing) enough. If you don't have the money, but still love it enough, then you'll find a way to fish. I feel like this is where I fall. I can't afford to fish all the pro/am events I want, and I knew this going into my journey to fish professionally. My plan was to find sponsorship to help with these costs, and sell tackle (drop shot weights, and ned rigs). This is where social media comes into play.
Social media (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, etc.) is the foundation of what I can offer a company in a sponsorship scenario. Without social media, without building an audience, without selling tackle, I would not be fishing any of the events that I have in the recent past. It is this work, that has enabled me to be in the position I am. Building a social media following, and developing sponsorship relationships is so much more difficult than people realize. It's one thing to have an audience, but it's another to find a company that wants to sponsor you.
Creating and posting content is something that doesn't stop. You never have enough content. For example, I produced 9 videos from my California Delta tournament, which equates to 3 weeks of YouTube content (3 videos a week for 3 weeks). Since I've been home from the event, I have made an additional 3 videos, and one has already gone live, and now I'm back to where I am staying even in content week by week (2 videos per week). I'm not complaining about this fact, I'm just trying to show how things really work.
If you have roadblocks that are keeping you from chasing your dreams, find ways to overcome them. This is what my journey to fish professionally is all about. My hope is that through my content, people will be able to watch, and have a roadmap to their own success. My road may be bumpy, may be slow, may not be the most efficient, and may be mocked by a lot of people, but it's my road that I'm paving, it's my journey that I'm on, it's my story that I'm writing, it's my ability to look back years from now and not regret that I didn't go for it. I do love it enough, and I'm going to do whatever I can to achieve my dreams. I hope you do as well.