There’s no better dream than to make money doing what you love. Bass fishing is a massive industry and economic machine that affords many the ability to make their living in a sport that they love
I’ve compiled information on making money in bass fishing. Professional bass anglers earn their living fishing but it’s not the only route to take. I’ve included other means to make money that include fishing-related opportunities off the water as well as on the water. Below, I’ll discuss 110 ways that you can make money bass fishing.
1. How Do You Become a Professional Bass Fisherman?
The first route that most people think of when trying to make money while bass fishing is to enter the world of professional bass fishing. Professional fishing has certainly grown in popularity over the last 4 or 5 years and now includes two major circuits: Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S., both competing for market share in the pro bass fishing tournament world.
The industry is huge and is loaded with advertisers that support it with big money. There are two major professional tournament organizations that organize and administer most of the pro bass tournaments. Each organization has different levels within their tournament systems similar to the way pro baseball is organized. Anglers enter tournaments and graduate through a progression-based system by qualifying to reach the next level. The fishing organizations mentioned above are B.A.S.S and Major League Fishing.
Although there are many means to the end of professional fishing, I’ve prepared a guide for becoming a professional fisherman as a sample course of action to follow. If you’re looking for a basic understanding of how to become a professional bass fisherman, check out these 9 steps to follow and you’ll have a little insight into the process.
(Please note that these circuits are dynamic and change very often. The process below is meant as a sample for explanatory purposes).
1. Fish local tournaments to get feet wet. Prove that you can win occasionally but, more importantly, show that you can consistently finish in the top 15 to 20 percent which should net you a year-end standing of top 2 to 7 percent before you move on from local tournaments.
2. Enter larger circuit tournaments as a co-angler. Note that you cannot enter as a co-angler in the upper echelon of a Major League Fishing or B.A.S.S. events. You’ll have to step down to the first eligible category of fishing tournaments in each league where you can openly enter without qualifying. Fishing as a co-angler will give you a ton of time to learn while fishing and observing how pros or aspiring pros approach tournament fishing.
3. If youth is on your side, consider fishing in high school where you’ll fish with a boat captain who can teach you about tournament fishing. Both of the big tournament organizations run great high school programs that are well worth participating in. Likewise, if you’re good enough, work hard for the opportunity to continue to fish in college. There are many great college bass fishing programs now with coaches and resources to help you in your journey.
4. As you continue to fish and learn, be mindful of the incredible amount of money that it will take to fish professionally. Save a ton of money. Get a job that doesn’t care that you’re gone, look for sponsors to pay for your journey, or create your own business that will allow you to leave and be gone for extended periods of time.
5. Before starting to fish as an angler in a big circuit, be sure to have all of your ducks in a row. Have money saved, make sure your truck and boat are well-equipped and well-maintained, and in VERY good working order because they’ll take a beating. Additionally, stock up on rods, reels, gear, and tackle. You’ll need plenty of it to make it through a season.
6. In both B.A.S.S. and Major League fishing, there are tournaments that are open to anyone to fish (who’s willing to pay the money). You do not have to qualify to fish in these tournaments. After you’ve proven yourself locally and/or spent time co-angling, begin by fishing these entry-level tournaments.
7. Fish through the entire circuit of one of the big league professional tournament trails. If you finish consistently high enough, you may be invited to move to the next level of competition where entry fees are higher but payouts are also larger as well.
8. If you have successfully made it to the next level, you may be able to start securing bigger sponsors who see your potential. Your proven track record of success may appeal to them but they are looking for more than fishing results! See below.
9. At this point, you’re playing in the big leagues but not quite at the top of the competitive pool. If you continue to prove yourself at this level and finish high enough, you may get invited to move onto the top level. On the B.A.S.S. side, you’ll get a chance to fish in the Elite Series. On the MLF side, you’ll be invited to fish on the Bass Pro Tour. At this stage of the game, sponsors will begin to seek you out and significantly supplement your income. Stakes are high and the potential for huge payouts is there. Winners of tournaments at this level win well over $100,000 per tournament.
How to Enter Pro Bass Tournaments
Entry is fairly straight forward. Check out the links below for entry information and specifics including entry fee details.
How Much it Costs to Be a Pro Bass Fisherman
While it’s hard to pinpoint exact costs, here are the factors that you need to consider and budget for:
- Entry fees
- Truck insurance
- Boat insurance
- Gas for truck
- Gas for boat
- Lodging expenses
- Truck repair allowance
- Boat repair allowance
- Tackle, gear, and equipment costs
Here’s the real deal . . .
Most anglers DON’T win tournaments. If you plan on living off of tournament winnings, you should probably reconsider. The fact of the matter is that the REAL DEAL is all about attracting sponsors and keeping sponsors happy because sponsors are what makes this industry tick. Sponsors are looking for their products and services to get maximum exposure. How? Any way possible!
Clearly, sponsors will garner attention when you win. However, many sponsors are looking for any way possible to get awareness for their brand. Social media and public relations events are two of the biggest ways to attract and keep great sponsors.
Aspiring pros are well-advised to create and maintain successful Facebook pages, youtube channels, and Instagram accounts to name a few. Sponsors care about how many people you can bring to them.
Public relations is another key to attracting and maintaining great sponsor relationships. I have been lucky enough to attend many professional events including the Bassmaster Classic, numerous Elite and Open level events, and the inaugural Major League Fishing Event at Lake Toho.
I’ll use the Classic as a talking point. Besides the awesome tournament, the BEST part about the classic was the multiple-day symposium and forum that featured every big (and most small) bass fishing company in the world. Guess what else it featured?! Every big angler you could think of. And, guess what they were doing there? You got it — PROMOTING THEIR SPONSOR BRANDS. Sponsors are looking for and keeping pros that could stand up and eloquently present their case for their sponsors. That’s where the money’s at.
2. Become a Professional Bass Fishing Guide to Earn Money
If you’ve fished for a long time and are comfortable sharing your knowledge with others to help them learn how to bass fish or enjoy a vacation that includes fishing, then becoming a bass fishing guide may be for you. Bass fishing guides take people on half or full-day trips with the promise of fun and fish-catching action.
You’ll need a few things to get started including a boat that is reliable and big enough to handle multiple anglers at once.
Before getting started, consult an attorney to make sure that you’re set up properly and protected including insurance and liability protection among other things. Also, be sure to check into licensing and certification requirements for your area.
Like any business, you’ll need the basics like a business phone number, email and website so you can promote your services.
You’ll need plenty of quality fishing gear including rods, reels, lures, terminal tackle, and other relevant fishing equipment.
Guide fees vary depending on experience and geographic region. Guides charge anywhere between $200-400 for half-day and $450-800 for full-day trips.
My Dad was a well-known Central Florida bass fishing guide for quite a long time. He mostly did it part-time as a way to be engaged with bass fishing, the sport he loved. Although being a guide can come with its share of challenges, I saw him enjoy the reward of being on the water and sharing his love for bass fishing with people from all over the world.
3. Make Money Bass Fishing by Creating Youtube Videos
Technology has certainly changed our world. People are not only looking to books and magazines for information and learning, they’re spending most of their time browsing, researching, and learning online including a heavy dose of youtube watching.
Capitalize on the youtube craze by creating your own youtube channel. Share your tips, tricks, knowledge, and product reviews online via youtube. Gain enough subscribers and youtube advertisers will begin to pay you to advertise on your channel.
Although this is not a get-rich-quick plan, there is ample opportunity to make money online creating bass fishing-related videos. You can start by using your phone to capture videos then use an online free editing platform to polish and edit videos before publishing them to youtube.
Many youtubers make PLENTY of money creating fishing videos. Here’s a couple of samples of channels that I follow. One is a well-established larger channel and one is smaller. Both generate interest by sponsors.
4. Enter Local Bass Fishing Tournaments to Win Money
The allure of trying to qualify for the big professional tournament circuits is very tempting, but local tournaments should not be overlooked. If you’re looking to make money bass fishing, local tournaments may actually prove to be a better way to go for a number of reasons.
- Local tournaments are typically much cheaper to enter. Tournament fees can range from $50 to $100 per tournament for smaller tournaments but payouts can still be huge.
- You’ll spend less gas money on traveling. Traveling to and from national-level professional tournaments can be extremely costly. Towing a boat is a significant drain on gas mileage and will cost you a pretty penny.
- You’ll have more knowledge about local tournament waters which should increase your chances of doing well and decrease related expenses because of less practice time. Although the practice is still important, you’ll know each body of water better meaning you can scale back on practice a bit thus saving time and money (gas, etc.)
- When you’re fishing tournaments closer to home, you’ll have the benefit of sleeping in your own bed which means little to no lodging costs and simpler prep time. The bottom line is that you will, once again, save money fishing locally.
Plan right and you could easily find enough tournaments in almost any part of bass fishing country to stay busy with tournaments every weekend. You’ll have ample fishing opportunities and plenty of chances to earn money through tournament wins and/or big bass earnings.
5. Write About Bass Fishing to Make Money
Your love for and knowledge of bass fishing is an asset that can be used to make money off of the water as well. If you are a skilled or experienced writer or are willing to learn, explore the many opportunities to write about fishing to make money.
You can guest write articles for a number of different online bass fishing publications or create your own blog. Bloggers make money by attracting visitors to their sites which, in turn, garners attention from online advertisers. Advertisers pay for spots on your website to market their products and services to the bass fishing public which means you make money. Writing is a great way to combine your love of fishing with your ability to write to earn income in a pastime that you enjoy.
6. Sell Bait and Lures that You Make to Earn Money
There is a growing trend in the bass fishing community: bait making. It wasn’t long ago that most soft plastics seemed to be made by the same few companies.
Enter the world of bait making via the use of soft plastic molds. You can now purchase your own materials (plastisol, molds, etc.) and learn to make your own baits. Create your company, make a logo, create branding and buy packaging and you’re off to the races. There are many companies that sell custom molds like Ultra Molds or Custom Bait Molds.
7. Open a Bait and Tackle Store
When we travel to tournaments, finding a local and knowledgeable bait and tackle store is indispensable. Local stores know about the closest fishing waters and understand the prevailing baits and lures that work in those bodies of water.
If you’re near a popular fishing destination, consider opening up a small shop to serve the fishing community. Use your local knowledge and love for your fishery to stock the right lures and baits for your area. Become the go-to expert.
Once you’ve gained a foothold, consider expanding to include online sales which could lead to the “holy grail” of income-making opportunities if done right. If you’re able to tap into an online selling market for bass fishing tackle and gear, you may be onto something that could support you for years.
8. Start a Bass Fishing Camp for Kids to Earn Money
Are you good with kids? Love bass fishing? If so, consider a fishing camp for kids. People are always looking for new and creative ways to keep their kids busy and are particularly interested in anything outdoors and away from computers and phones.
Fishing camps for kids could be a great way to share your love for bass fishing with a group of kids while earning money at the same time. Teach them what you know, get them catching fish and you’ll earn a smile, not only for the kids but for you.
9. Write a Book about Bass Fishing to Make Money
If you’re an avid, experienced angler, you likely have more knowledge than the average person about bass fishing. You may assume that most fishermen know exactly what to do, but, the truth of the matter is that there are PLENTY of people looking for information and advice about bass fishing.
Why not put pen to paper to put your bass fishing expertise in written form? The task of writing a book may seem overwhelming at first. However, you’d be surprised at what your mind is capable of. You’re likely full of great information that is just waiting to be shared with others. Take a shot — it’s easy to write about a subject that you love.
10. Work as a Sales Rep for a Fishing Company to Make Money
The fishing industry is one of the fastest growing outdoor industries in the world. According to ESPN,
“America’s 30 million bass anglers are the basis of a $60 billion industry. Approximately one in every five Americans hangs out the “gone fishing” sign every year. Bass is the fish most frequently sought.” (source)
Here’s an exhaustive list of a TON of fishing companies. Take time to put in the work and submit your resume for a chance to work in the fishing industry. One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is as a sales representative. Why not submit your resume and see where it goes?
Special Note about Any of the Ideas Above. Legal and Tax Considerations.
Be sure to talk to an accountant and attorney to make sure that you set things up properly legally and protect yourself from liability. Before you embark on any of the ideas above, find a reliable and knowledgeable attorney and accountant to DO THINGS RIGHT. It’s worth it and will keep you going for a long time!
The Bass Line. Final word
If you’re looking for ways to make money bass fishing, follow an idea on our list or be creative, think outside the box, and make your own way. The sky’s the limit and imagination is key. Follow your passion and you’re sure to find a way to earn money doing something you love.
Grab a pen and paper and start brainstorming today. You only live once. Why not live it doing something that you love?!