For the vast majority of people, fishing can be broken into two distinct levels: occasional and avid. Occasional anglers are those who fish a few weekends out of the year, or when they take their families up to the cottage on the lake for vacation each summer. Avid anglers are on the water any chance they get and fish all day long out of a love for the sport. However, there is another level of fishing that very few aspire to, let alone succeed at: professional angling. Some anglers have invested so much time and commitment to learning, studying, and experiencing fishing in every way imaginable that they are capable of earning a living doing so. If your love for fishing has you considering turning pro to be a real possibility, then there are a few tips and steps you should know before taking those first steps.

First and foremost, professional fishing is hard work. It takes years of learning, reading, trial and error, and dedication on the water to even possess the ability to fish at a competitive level and even more of a commitment to endure the travel, stress, and financial strains that accompany such a career choice. Any professional angler on the water today has only gotten to that point by diligently learning everything they could about fishing throughout the years. This includes studying feeding and mating habits, every different technique being utilized, and how certain lures work in every possible scenario. Such knowledge only comes from time and effort, and anyone interested in turning pro must make that sacrifice.

Fine-tuning your own style and skills are an integral part of taking your fishing to the next level, as well. If you’ve never investigated a certain technique or are in need of brushing up your skills, you can find classes through most outdoor retailers, as well as local clubs and organizations in your area. Not only will these classes be a great learning experience, but membership at retailers will help save money on all the gear you’ll have to purchase. Furthermore, clubs and organizations hold tournaments of their own throughout the year, which is a great way to gain exposure to competition and staying at the top of your game. You won’t start to earn a reputation until you win consistently. Then, after a few top finishes in tournaments, I would consider seeking sponsorship from local businesses, to help offset costs and get your name out there.

One important thing to consider when thinking about turning pro is the effect that it will have on your family. Pro anglers are on the road the majority of the year, which can cause problems. Make sure that you talk with your family about the possibility of turning pro and come to an agreement. If it helps, have them come to tournaments with you and even bring the kids when you practice on your local lake. Also, travelling around the country to fish means potentially leaving your current job, which is a very serious decision. Be sure to discuss your wishes with your current boss, and work out a way to take time off for travel when tournaments come up.

Fishing on the professional level is a challenge in so many ways. Financially, mentally, emotionally, physically—it will test even the most seasoned angler. However, it is possible to pursue such a dream and make a living doing what you love. If being a professional angler is your dream, make sure to learn all you can about it, make the necessary preparations with your family and finances, and most importantly; fish, fish, fish.  

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