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"Itís not all about tournament fishingÖÖ."
By: Chad Morgenthaler


Some people would be surprised to learn that the ďcrazy lifeĒ for most professional anglers doesnít just end with the last tour event.  There is a tremendous amount of work running the business of professional bass fishing and remaining visible for sponsors. Things that were allowed to slide during tour season have to be taken care of in the off season.  Not taking care of business could find an angler quickly buried and unable to fulfill sponsor obligations. Thereís no time for procrastination during the off season and very little time for rest.

If someone would of told me when I quit my job at the fire department and started fishing professionally that I would spend more time soliciting new sponsors, fulfilling current sponsor obligations, working diligently to remain in the media, attending promotional eventsÖyou get the picture.  I probably would have said they were out of their minds, but itís true.  I spend just as much, if not more time working off the water as I do on it.  The business side of fishing is one of the most important aspects of being a competitive professional angler, and it requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication.

Making a good living as a professional angler means relying heavily on sponsor dollars.  Believe me itís very reassuring to know that I can count on a monthly income when tournament winnings are very unreliable. 

Most all sponsor contracts bind anglers to use a certain product or brand and to promote ďBrand XĒ in the media, tournament jersey, tow vehicle, and boat.  Usually the more money an angler receives the higher the obligation, such as a negotiated amount of appearance days.  Having a lot of sponsors is great, but anglers can quickly get in a jam fulfilling obligations and contract requirements if theyíre not diligent.  If obligations canít be met during tour season, itís time to search out and take care of business in the off season.

To be successful on the business side anglers have to view their careers through their sponsorís eyes.  Sponsors are interested in tournament results because a good result usually generates media exposure.  Even though they are interested in results, they are more interested in how well the angler is able to help sale their products.  Sponsors are usually looking for a pro that the public isnít afraid to approach.  Someone the public can talk to, ask questions, and learn from.  I happen to take my obligations very seriously and work hard all year to promote my sponsors.  I want to make sure that if a company I represent has to cut pro staff that my name is last on the list. 

The time between tour seasons also allows anglers to visit their sponsorís manufacturing plants and learn more about the products they promote.  Some companies actually have annual product knowledge clauses in their contracts.  This alone can keep an angler busy in the off season.  I represent companies such as Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Ranger Boats, Maxima America, Yamaha Outboards, Kistler Rods, Minn Kota, Lowrance, Plano, Svanda GM Motor Group and Nameoki Village Marine.  Their factories/facilities are located all across the United States .

The off season isnít all about the grind of keeping the business side of fishing running, itís also about staying fresh and having the time to work on problem areas and test new products.   Itís also time to visit lakes that offer challenges and work on weak areas. My first season on tour my weakness proved to be competing on deep clear lakes.  I found competing in California and some of the lakes in Alabama a real challenge.  Iíve worked really hard in this area over the last few years and now I feel very confident that I can remain competitive against the best in the field in sight fishing situations.   

I also like to find time during the year to work with organizations such as the Special Olympics Illinois to help promote their programs and events.   In the past few years Iíve also visited local schools and youth organizations giving numerous presentations on fishing, conservation, goals, and being successful in life

Nowadays to stay in the game simply fishing tournaments is not enough to become a well rounded professional angler.  It requires a lot of time, dedication and most of all a good head for business.

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