Behind the scenes of a pro bass fishermanPublished 6:24pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I recently had the chance to have my friend Matt spend a few days at our home. Matt has spent the past 3½ years as a touring professional bass fisherman on the F.L.W. and Bassmaster tournament trails.
Matt is a native Californian, who moved to the east coast in 2006 as part of his job in corporate America, and after a major career change, has been calling the road “home” for the better part of the last three years.
Matt is doing something I guess I used to say was a dream of mine, a touring bass fisherman. We stay in touch regularly, and it has been quite the eye opener to hear the “behind the scenes” world of professional bass fishing.
There can be a lot of glory if you are the one standing on stage after a three- or four-day tournament, but the path to get to that point is grueling and less than glamorous for most.
A typical tournament would have Matt arriving at a lake weeks ahead of tournament day, and spending seven days a week fishing at least 10 hours a day. And at the end of the day, he would spent a couple hours rigging and repairing for the next day, then spend a cozy night’s sleep in the back of a Suburban that contained all his living essentials.
And it can be a rude awakening when you put yourself up against the best in the world. Matt is probably the best I have ever seen at catching big fish. He has had five fish stringers that would go 40 lb, and a personal best fish of 14½ lbs.
But when you are up against the best, you have to have a perfect game for four days straight, and sometimes get a break. Well Matt got his break, the wrong one. In his first season, while sitting in second going into the last day of one tournament, his motor broke, costing him a very good shot at a big win. He finished up the year fairly well in the points standings, but after all was said and done he had spent two times the amount he had won.
The real surprise for me was the commercial side of the game. The economy has choked off a lot of the sponsorships needed to fish regularly, and the nearsidedness of those who can sponsor is something else.
I realize I make part of my living fishing “commercially”, but I have strived over the years to be strait forward, and appreciative of help I have received from companies. Well, I guess the higher the stakes, the less hospitable and more they are looking out for their own interests.
I guess I’ll just say the business side of tournament fishing has left a bad taste in my mouth.
After a few years have past, and some very big positive changes in my life, such as a wife and child, I look back and am very thankful I did not take the plunge into tournament fishing as a younger man. The few moments of fame and fortune just aren’t worth the tradeoffs to get there for me.
I hope the best for my friend Matt – I hope he gets things to go his way, and I hope to see him on stage one day so I can say, “Hey, I know that dude” – but for me, I guess I’ll be happy here in good ol’ Polk County living the simple life.