Few make a living bass fishing

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Video how much do professional fishermen make

March signals the start of bass tournaments on Clear Lake where more than 40 tournaments are scheduled for 2022. We see the professional fishermen launch their expensive bass boats and watch them speed off across the lake to their favorite fishing holes. They not only get to fish just about every day of the week but can make a good living as well.

How true is that statement?

Well, not very. Few fishermen can make a living by fishing. We often hear the term bass pro and it creates the image of a fisherman who has the best job in the world, someone who fishes every day and wins thousands of dollars doing it. The truth is there are probably fewer than 20 fishermen in the entire state who make their living solely by tournament fishing. Most tournament fishermen do it as a hobby and not as an occupation simply because you can’t make enough on the tournament trail to support yourself much less a family.

According to one of the major bass tournament organizations, the average full-time tournament fisherman grosses approximately $30,000 a year in winnings.

The cost to be a full-time tournament angler is steep. You must first purchase a bass boat costing at least $90,000. Then you must buy fishing rods and reels, which is another $3,000. Fishing tackle costs from $500-$1,000. The entry fees for the megabuck pro/ams cost anywhere from $1,000- $15,000. And don’t forget about the travel costs. Many tournament fishermen travel more than 1,000 miles just to fish a lake. There are motel costs and meals plus gas for the boat and the towing vehicle. The typical fisherman can count on spending at least $250 per day in living expenses. Add that to the entry fees and a tournament angler has spent approximately $2,000 before he wets a line.

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The winner of a major bass tournament can pocket as much as $100,000 but most tournaments pay much less. Compare that with a professional golf tournament where it’s not unusual for the winner to take home more than $1 million. Of course, golf tournaments draw huge paying crowds and are televised.

A lot of people think tournament fishermen make loads of money from sponsors for endorsing their products. They see all those patches of tackle manufacturers on the shirt of the fisherman and think he is raking in the dough. Not true. With the exception of a few top bass pros, most fishermen receive only a discount or a few samples of the product in return for advertising the product.

How much does a typical bass pro make in a year? The figure may surprise you. Most fishermen in California win less than $10,000 and that’s before expenses. By the time you subtract entry fees and travel expenses you’re in the hole. On the national level, the average yearly income for a full-time pro is about $35,000 a year. There are a few pros on the national circuits who are millionaires, but they number less than a dozen.

The bass tournaments held on Clear Lake are typically team events where the winning team pays an entry fee of $300 and wins back approximately $2,000. These bass pros all have full-time jobs and competing in a tournament is more of a recreational event. Total expenses just about always exceed winnings.

Many younger bass pros envision a career where they make thousands of dollars a year and also enjoy the notoriety of being a famous bass fisherman. In truth, many last on the tournament circuit only a few years and then go back to their original jobs and fish only on weekends.

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As one famous tournament fisherman once told me, “Don’t quit your day job.”

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>