Although I just finished second in the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup, I haven’t made a cast for a bass since the Bassmaster Elite Series concluded for the 2022 season. But I never stop fishing. While a lot of guys spend the fall and winter deer hunting, I take pride in that I’m fishing for next year’s sponsorships. From February through September I’m fishing for bass. From October through January I’m fishing for sponsors. You simply cannot maintain a professional bass career without them.
As I’m going into my 11th year as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro, I know it’s more important than ever to work during the offseason to keep an income flowing. Any young angler who thinks a bass pro only has to fish and weigh bass on stage is dreaming. You can be best bass angler in world, but you’re going to have a very short career without sponsors.
If you spend too much time in a deer stand or just taking time off, potential sponsorships are going to go to the next guy who is willing to work for them. Fishing for sponsors is harder than fishing for bass, and the competition is just as fierce. Hoards of anglers are vying for sponsorship money, but there’s only so much to go around.
If you want to be a well-rounded, career bass angler, you have to put the same effort into the business side of fishing as you do into the tournaments.
My wife, Trait, helps with the business aspect, while I produce content for social media and Bassmaster.com. Trait also takes part in starting relationships with new companies and communicating with our current sponsors. We both stay in touch with our sponsors, partnerships and potential sponsors via emails, texts, phone calls and tagging them on social media. We constantly remind them that we are always working on their behalf.
How do you get sponsors? I always tell people to make sponsors recognize you. Make them want to introduce themselves to you. You won’t have much success with potential sponsors if they don’t know who you are.
Work hard on social media to do things that stand out. Post about fishing techniques and fishing trips. Also, reveal your personality with humorous and even silly posts and videos. Build your own social media brand and show sponsors that you are willing to work by frequently updating your content.
Getting started is real simple. You’ve got to have Facebook and Instagram accounts. YouTube is a bonus, but it requires more effort to produce better quality videos. Every company in the industry now has Facebook and Instagram and a social media manager. All I can tell you is that they are watching. Do whatever it takes to make them notice you.