Forestville, WI – Members of the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) attending their 2023 Annual Conference held in Tampa Bay, Florida, January 6 – 8, were treated to a tremendous event packed full of great advice on the conference’s main theme of “Controlling Your Own Destiny” in the sportfishing industry. With speakers including two-time Bassmaster Classic winner “G-Man” Gerald Swindle, legendary saltwater angler, Louisiana guide and Redfish Lodge owner, Mike Frenette, father/son pro angler team of Jason and Jay Przekurat, and 2022 MLF Redcrest Winner Bobby Lane, information was flowing freely throughout the much-heralded event.
Lane’s seminar was especially well received as he focused attention on what it takes to be a successful pro and make more money in the sportfishing industry with tangible examples and tips drawn from his more than 20 years progressing through all levels of the pro circuit. His fast-moving session threw light on the need to maintain the flexibility to change with the times and present yourself in a truly professional manor – two keys he called out as vital to advance in the super-competitive sportfishing industry.
According to Lane, a long-time NPAA member from Lakeland, Florida, who is one of only three anglers in the world to have claimed both a Redcrest and a Bassmaster Elite championship, family support, an ability to change on the fly to meet changing conditions both on the water and in the industry, and a willingness to hustle and reach to develop personal relationships with potential sponsors are all points to keep in mind if you are serious about making money in this industry.
“My brothers and I were lucky to grow up fishing with our Dad,” recalled Lane as he noted the importance of strong family support, getting off to a great start, and gaining a love of fishing at an early age. He also pointed out the importance of making every minute count when out on the water, using his last-minute 2022 Redcrest victory, in which he made up a 16-pound deficit with 90 minutes to go, as an example. Talk about performing under pressure, there was $300,000 and a world championship on the line in that scenario. Lane finally climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a little more than two minutes to go!
Lane also stressed the importance of developing relationships with potential sponsors, “who you’ll need at every level and throughout your entire professional career,” offering tips on the importance of loyalty, honesty and good will as you cultivate these relationships. When recruiting sponsors, he suggested, look for those who match up best with your areas of expertise and then work hard to keep up your end of the bargain. It takes a lot of work to grow your sponsorships, noted Lane. “Things don’t happen overnight. I have sponsors now that have recently come on board who I’ve struck up relationships with early in my career.” The process, he explained, is an investment in time and effort that really pays off in the long run so it’s best to get started now.
Lane also touched on the importance of being fully invested in the sportfishing industry, and of giving back as you gain traction over the years. “That’s a great way to get recognized and grow respect for yourself within the industry,” he added, noting that a yearly youth fishing event he runs, called the Bobby Lane Cup, last year hosted 382 kids and gave away $41,000 in scholarships to 13 junior and senior high-school anglers. “We’ve had scholarship award winners come back to us after college to be boat captains for other young anglers in our camp,” revealed Lane proudly.
“Bobby gave an outstanding and entertaining seminar packed-full of useful information,” said NPAA president, Patrick Neu, “It’s hard to imagine anyone being more qualified to speak on being a pro than this veteran fishing powerhouse from Lakeland Florida. Our members really got their money’s worth when Bobby stepped up to the podium and openly discussed decisions he’s made over the years that ultimately put him in the driver’s seat when it comes to being a successful pro. His presentation couldn’t have gone better.”
NPAA represents all who make a living in the sportfishing industry. Membership includes everyone from guides and captains to tournament anglers, fishing department associates/management/shop owners, manufacturing personnel, engine mechanics, and professional rep groups. In addition to superior networking opportunities, sportfishing advocacy and promoting entry into the sport, the organization offers a monthly member newsletter, a weekly industry NewsBLAST, and access to significant discounts on gear and services provided by many of its nearly 80 supporting partners.
For more information on joining the NPAA and exploring the many benefits membership provides, visit npaa.net.