Thank you for you email. There are many different ways to achieve a goal, and I’m sure if you asked different “fishing-pros”, most of them would have unique circumstances that lead up to their fishing carrier. To me, the term “professional fisherman” means that a person can make a living, entirely, or in part by sportfishing in some way. A professional fisherman can make a living by getting “endorsement-money” from sponsors and earning money fishing in tournaments, some professional fishermen become TV fishing show hosts, other professional fishermen operate a full-time or part-time fishing charter/guiding service. I will try and convey how I got to become a “professional fisherman”.
Here’s what I suggest. If you love to fish…I mean you have a real passion for it, you should follow a career at least in the outdoors, if not specifically in the “fishing-field”. I have a strong faith in God and I believe that if we know Him, God will give us the desire of our heart. In my case I went to Fleming College in Lindsay, ON (Canada’s School of Natural Resources). In my 20’s I had a passion for fishing, but I was not sure what I should do with that passion, so I studied all kinds of outdoor disciplines and graduated as a Fish & Wildlife Technician. During my schooling I learned everything about fish and wildlife. I learned important fish & wildlife management skills, and after graduating I worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. At that point in my life I had a talk with God and told Him that even though I love to fish, I am surrendering everything t Him, my life, my passion for fishing, everything, and that He could do with my life as he pleased.
After that prayer I continued to work for the MNR and shortly afterwards opened a small fishing tackle shop called The Angler in Oshawa, ON. At the same time I learned to do taxidermy and started a business called Professional Taxidermy. The whole time I fished as much as I could and started getting some recognition from fishing tackle companies who I would write to and tell them what I thought about their products. At the same time I also started entering fishing derbies and fishing contests, and eventually fishing tournaments (back in the 70’s there were few fishing tournaments). I also started writing fishing articles and some of the fishing tackle companies who got to know me asked me to promote their products and become part of their “pro-staff”. Eventually I started doing fishing seminars at sports clubs and “in-store” fishing clinics in tackle shops. By the mid-70’s I started getting asked to help people get video fishing footage. By the early 80’s I was a regular “fishing-tournament” trail competitor in Ontario, and I did very well winning some tournaments and placing in the top-10 of most of them. All this time I earned some money from fishing, but most of my income came from either the tackle store or from the taxidermy work. By 1986 I was encouraged to produce a pilot for the Canadian Sportfishing show. The pilot was accepted by TSN, and the rest as they say is history. I have to be honest with you and tell you I never had a specific goal as to what I wanted to achieve. All I knew growing up was that I loved to fish and I was hoping to do something that had to do with fish and the outdoors. I realized many years ago that God, in fact gave me the desires of my heart because I surrendered everything to Him!
In closing, fish as much as you can without compromising your other family/personal obligations. Get involved in promoting fishing and fishing conservation in your area. Help other people get involved in fishing. This can be as simple as being active in a fishing club, or as big as starting to write articles, coming up with “conservation-projects” in nearby waters (stream/shoreline clean-up, etc.), and contacting fishing tackle manufacturers and letting them know what you think about their products, just as I did. At the same time, you may want to try fishing some competitive fishing events. These can range from local fishing derbies to bigger one and two day fishing tournaments. As you become more active in the sportfishing field, people will take notice. At the same time, you may want to consider getting a degree in an “outdoor-related’ field. I believe having a college or university degree is important to reaching your goal, even though you may not be sure of what it is right now. Once you build credibility in the sportfishing field, you can approach fishing tackle companies to see if they would like you to represent their products and become part of their “pro-staff”. When you get enough knowledge of the fishing areas in your area, and you have some money to get started, you may even want to consider becoming a fishing guide. By the way, guiding at a fishing lodge is a great way to know if you have a real passion for fishing, and it’s a great way to earn money over the summer months. Most guides work long hours on the water and spend time each day to prepare and clean up after their guiding outings. Remember, anything is possible…God bless you, Italo