Read this article from the PAA website. This is the real world of pro fishing for more than you want to know.
Brooks Bows Out
Many competitive anglers dream of living the life of a BASS Elite Series angler. Many fans of the sport think these pros are treated like royalty and have the same kind of cash flow as other professional athletes. That, unfortunately, is not true. Pro anglers have to pony up large sums of cash for entry fees, lodging, gas, etc. These large expenditures can negate the positive impact of an individuals winnings over the course of a season. In fact, the financial burden can destroy an angler’s career. Brooks Rogers is one of these casualties of economics.
Rogers started the 2006 Elite Series season knowing the type of financial responsibilities that awaited him, if he chose to participate. He went for it anyway.
“I started the season knowing the cost and knowing what little sponsor money I had,” said Rogers. “But the Elite Series sounded good. It really seemed like this is where I needed to be to make my career.
“This was my third season at this level,” he said. “My first two seasons were mediocre, but I thought I’d give it one more try. After the 6th event was over, I won $30,000, but I was still $12,000 in the hole.”
Rogers feels there are more anglers in the Elite Series in the same financial situation as he is, but they are still paying to play.
“I still believe that BASS is where careers are made,” he said. “The sad reality is that I feel only about 10% of the competitors actually make a living from tournament fishing. There’s gotta be at least 20 other anglers who are upside down pretty bad right now. Some of them are pretty well known pros.”
While Rogers knew his days were numbered fishing the Elite Series, he was still ready to fish the Kentucky Lake event. However, he had a large outstanding balance with BASS and had to pay up to compete.
“I was in line at registration for the Elite event at Kentucky Lake,” he said. “I was told by one of people there I owed them $7,000. They went and got Trip Weldon to discuss this matter with me.
“When Trip came to speak with me, he told me I needed to pay the $7, 000,” he said. “I told him I thought I should be able to fish since I already paid the $5,000 for the event.
“Apparently the payment structure is set up so you pay ahead to fish,” he said. “Heck, I paid $20,000 in entry fees before I ever made a cast in an Elite Series event.”
In one day, Rogers’ career came to a screeching halt.
“I didn’t even have a week to think about my future,” he said. “My career came down to one decision on one night. “I just didn’t have the money. I called my Dad and my wife. My Dad offered to lend it to me, but I decided that I wasn’t going to borrow money from my Daddy. I decided enough was enough and packed my bags and came home.”
Now that Rogers is no longer and Elite Series competitor, he’s planning to rebuild his business and decide what direction to take in the world of tournament fishing.
“Before each Elite tournament, I could hardly sleep worrying about my finances,” he said. “I’m relieved that it’s over. I’d never tell any angler not to chase their dream, but make sure you have enough money to be able to be out there, win or lose.
“Right now, I plan on building my guide business back to what it was here on Lake Fork in Texas,” he said. “I’m also waiting to see what happens with the PAA and their own tournaments.
“I want everyone to know I don’t blame BASS at all for my decision to fish the Elite Series,” he said. “It was totally my choice. I just want young anglers out there to know that they shouldn’t get too consumed by the dream. Be realistic and have a business plan. I don’t want any more anglers to lose their tail like I did.”