I’m going to talk to you about why I think professional bass fishing may in fact be more of a myth than a reality. It's so expensive that it's almost not feasible to attain!
I recently signed up for the Best on Tour email newsletter. I received an email the other day, and I was going through it and one of the items really caught my attention. It was in their behind the scenes section of the newsletter. They put up a graphic about Average Winnings vs Average Expenses On Tour between the BASS Elite Series and MLF BPT.
After looking at the graphic that compared the average winnings vs the average expenses, it really made me think this whole idea of bass fishing as a career or a profession may be a myth.
There’s basically $2,000 in profit for an elite series angler and then about $18,000 in profit for a BPT angler. No one can live off those numbers. It’s a joke in the big picture.
You’re not really making money as a fisherman with these numbers. I don’t know the specifics of what went into the average expenses to fish these tours, but I doubt it took into account expenses outside of fishing that we all have. Cars, houses, cell phones, insurances, tackle, and everything else. Even if all these expenses are paid for from sponsorship the average fisherman is making about 67,000 to 72,000 a year BEFORE TAXES. This is a not a lucrative living.
With the information presented in this graph the take away I have is that professional angler’s are essential marketers and salesmen. That’s where they make their money, at least if they are actually making money from their fishing.
We aspire for this because we get to fish full time! That’s what this all boils down to. We want to compete, we want to be the best, we’re chase the possibilities, we chase the dream, we chase the opportunity to get that big check, that Bassmaster Classic trophy.
We are aspiring to live on our own terms, to not have a traditional job, a slave to the 9-5, to not have a traditional “boss” even though I’m sure a lot of fisherman feel like they have a bunch of different bosses when it comes to sponsorship obligations.
Sponsorship is the only way to make it in the fishing world. Endorsements are a huge part of the profession if you can get to that level. Signature rods, lures, clothing etc. Items that pay royalties are huge. There’s a reason guys like Iaconelli, KVD, and others want their names on baits, rods, and other items. They are getting paid from each one that is sold.
Another must have is content creation. If you are not creating content, you’re not reaching people, and not being able to sell anything to anyone, and are therefore not valuable to a company, and the sponsorships won’t be there.
With platforms like youtube, where you can make money off the content you create, while getting in front of other people, and potentially sell sponsored products, it would seem to me platforms like this are a must have. Over time you’ve seen more and more anglers jumping on youtube.
I think at the end of the day, being a professional fisherman is a misleading title. I think “professional fisherman” are much more than that. Fishermen do it because they love to fish, they love being out on the water, they love catching bass, they love competing, they love traveling. They have to. There’s plenty of ways to make money outside the fishing industry, but then we have that boss, that 9-5.
With fishing, we always have a dream being dangled in front of us, and we end up being able to live life on our own terms and out on the water.