Are we just dopes?


I like to think I'm not a complete feeb, a sap, a total dope, but I'm starting to wonder about my personal views of my intellect lately.

No, this has nothing to do with the constant mind-numbing drone of how bad the economy is on the various news channels, nope, not at all. I'm referring to the illusion that is professional fishing.

By illusion, I mean this. I don't believe there are any professional anglers fishing tournaments, none, not one, nada, zippo zilch.

Sure, I thought of high-level tournament anglers as pros for many years. I even bought into the concept that pro means promotional as well. Instead of being paid for performance, pros are often promised to be paid to promote as well.

Well, here is the illusion, many DON'T get paid. Many do a swell job and are lucky to get some lame delayed bill boat deal that at the end of the day the "pro" sells at a true loss once you add taxes, etc., into the equation.

Most "pros" have to do other things besides fishing to make a living. If you fall into this category, you aren't a pro athlete.

No MLB, NFL, NBA, or other major sports where athletes are pros work another job to be able to compete. Nor do these pros pay to compete. Nor do these pros pay to get themselves to the event or pay for their meals while on the road performing. There is a traveling secretary, like George Costanza on Seinfeld, for that.

This definition means that all, but the very top two dozen pros or so, are truly high-level hobbyists at best.

Does this mean I'm anti-tournament pros or tournaments? No, I love the game. I love fishing tournaments. The folks who compete in them are some of the finest folks I've ever had the honor of meeting, working with and befriending.

The reality is tournament organizations, to this point, and the industry sponsors have propped up this "every man" falsehood that you can achieve the level of pro more easily in tournament fishing than in other sports such as football or baseball. That happens to be totally true, especially if you have a big wad of cash backing you up.

In my estimation, the bottom-line is this. Until the day comes that "pro" anglers are actually paid a salary to fish and not just given small morsels to feed their addiction, then we will truly never have pro anglers. Yes, marketers, businessmen and women, but not truly pro anglers.

In fact, some of the world's top anglers can't afford to fish (or don't want to go broke doing it). When you take them out of the game, you don't actually have a competition that includes the best of the best.

However, I still want to fish everything I can enter. I still don't want to give up on the dream. But I want all of us in this game to actually become pros and not just dopes buying into a failing business model that doesn't allow us to have enough money to have a secure life financially while we chase little fish around the country in the hopes of some day being a champion.

Dave and Kristin Landahl host The Fishing Fanatics radio show on ESPN radio affiliate AM 1360 WLBK in northern Illinois Thursday evenings from 6-7 p.m. CT. You can also tune in to hear The Fishing Fanatics at www.1360wlbk.com.