Elite pro Chad Pipkens says that it takes time and money as well as the skill to fish professionally.
“One of the biggest challenges in fishing is you’ve got to have time and money, and it’s tough to have both,” he said.
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Here’s how the Michigan angler secured his fishing financial needs from the day he was a youngster until the present:
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1. Pipkens took advantage of a captive customer base in the 6th and 7th grade while riding a school bus. He purchased Air Heads Candy in bulk at Sam’s Club and sold them on the bus. “I profited $10 a box and saved nearly $2,000 over time. My dad put some money with it and we bought a 15½-foot Sea Nymph boat with a 25 horse outboard. We had a trolling motor on the back and an aerated cooler for a livewell. I fished my first tournament out that.”
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2. He began officiating hockey games at age 14 and did that for 15 years. “At one time I was working 100 hours a week doing youth leagues, men’s games, high school and college. I could make $600 to $800 a weekend. That’s how I set myself up with tackle and entry fees to fish my first year as a co-angler at the state and regional level.”
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3. After college, he went to work for a contractor installing pay phone systems inside Florida’s penitentiaries for two months in the fall. “We were working among the hardest criminals in Florida, but they didn’t mess with us because we were providing them with a source to the outside. I made nearly $12,000 doing that. It paid all my co-angler entry fees for FLW Tour and Stren Series that next year.”
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4. He got certified to start his own painting company at age 23 and did landscaping jobs, poured concrete and worked as a substitute schoolteacher when he didn’t have painting jobs. “I studied for my painting license on the way to the FLW tournaments.”
In addition, he bought a house and rented it out for $350 a month while living with his parents until age 30. “Yeah that’s right - at home with mommy and daddy and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That’s how you get ahead.”
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5. Four years ago he studied and passed exams to sell health and life insurance. He won “Rookie of the Year” at the agency for having the most sales his first year. “It opened my eyes as to how to properly prepare for life. I didn’t want to be 55 and not have anything saved.” That company, Clear Strategy Retirement Group, is one his fishing sponsors.
Pipkens married his wife, Melanie, a year and half ago and still has his paint company. “I had no problem struggling to save money when I was single, but never wanted a family member to struggle because of me.”