How Much Do Pro Bass Fishermen Make per Year?

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

Are you thinking of becoming a professional bass fisherman? The average salary intake for this profession might be significant in getting started. 

Pro bass fishermen make an average of $62,796 per year. Yearly earnings might go as high as $350,382 for top fishermen or as low as $13,149. After 22% of federal taxes, pro bass fishermen might take home an average of $56,851 per year.

The rest of the article will share with you the average annual earnings for pro bass fishermen, the highest-paid pro bass fisherman, how to become a pro bass fisherman, and how to secure sponsorships.

Average Annual Earnings for Professional Bass Fishermen

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

The annual salary for professional bass fishermen ranges between $13,149 to $350,382. The middle point for yearly earnings is $62,796. However, the median range of fishermen earns between $62,796 and $158,536 annually.

The annual earnings for most professional bass fishermen vary from year to year. Naturally, beginners tend to earn less, and wages go up with experience and exposure. Pro bass fishermen typically make their money via sponsorships and tournament prizes.

Fishing competition prizes vary, and while some might offer mouth-watering prizes, some barely have a purse. Each tournament’s prizes might depend on the tournament sponsors, type of fish, size of the field, and location. The highest paying professional fishing tournament is the B.A.S.S. Bassmaster series.

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

The B.A.S.S. Bassmaster series top prize typically stands at about $100,000, but in 2007, Kevin VanDam won a whopping $500,000. The rewards go down for lower placing fishermen, with second place earning $25,000 and $20,000.

Endorsements and sponsorships are the next way pro bass fishermen supplement their income. Sponsorship deals might involve free equipment of payment to use the sponsor’s equipment. More sponsorship deals might translate to more earnings.

The Highest Paid Pro Bass Fisherman

If you’ve done some research on becoming a pro bass fisherman, you’ve probably come across the name Kevin VanDam. If you don’t know who that is, allow me to fill you in.

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

Kevin VanDam is the highest-paid pro bass fisherman. He began his fishing career in 1987 and has made about $6,842,926. He has taken part in 314 tournaments and finished first place 25 times, and in the top ten, 121 times. 

In addition to his tournament wins, Kevin VanDam has sponsorships from Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Humminbird, Lew’s, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak Fishing, Nitro, GoPro, Strike King, Talon, T-H Marine, Venmo, Yeti, Mustad, Plano, and Oakley.

Other millionaire top bass fishermen include David Dudley, Aaron Martens, Greg Hackney, and Edwin Evers.

How to Become a Professional Bass Fisherman

So, you’re probably thinking of becoming a professional bass fisherman but don’t quite know how to go about it. Professional bass fishing requires immense dedication, but you might need to consider some factors on your way going pro.

Start Competing

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

If you want to move up in the industry, you would need to put yourself out there. You could start by getting involved in club-level tournaments and work your way up. You don’t need to rush your way through levels. You can hurt your progress by running through the ranks, especially if you have trouble with specific stages.

Take your time and enjoy the process to the top. Ultimately, your progress depends on your personal experience. Some fishermen can work their way up in two to three years, while others might take their time and move up in ten to fifteen years. 

Learn From Others

You might get better at fishing by learning from other experienced fishermen. You can improve your skills on your own, but the experience you’ll get as a co-angler will improve your skills quicker. You could also get some theoretical advice from your favorite fishermen blogs. 

Numerous online resources could give you critical pro fishing knowledge before getting practical experience. This YouTube video on Bass Fishing Tips: 9 Basics All Anglers Need to Know: Bass Fishing from Bassresource could be an excellent starting point:

Learn to Cover Water

Learning to cover shallow waters quickly and efficiently could be essential to more successful fishing. You might need to dedicate sufficient time to learn how to do this with reaction baits because it takes a while to master this skill.

Perfect Your Skill

Don’t postpone practice sessions to only when you’re getting ready for tournaments. Regular practice might help you better hone your fishing skills. Head out and practice fishing in water bodies that are on the elite fishing schedule. 

Water bodies in elite fishing tournaments can be overwhelming to beginners, particularly if they don’t have a game plan. Consider visiting these bodies of water to perfect trusted techniques and focus on specific fish groups. 

Perfect Your Electronics

Photo Credit – @majorleaguefishingofficial

Mastering your bass electronics and fish finders is vital to a favorable elite tournament. If you have the time, practice going up and down the fishing routes, reading your electronics, and marking out key spots. This time you’ll spend perfecting your electronics skills could translate to finding, marking, and catching fish during the tournament. 

Get Your Finances Together

Playing in the big leagues isn’t cheap, and you would need to get your finances together to pay your way through. You would need to pay entry fees and living expenses during the event. That’s why you need a comprehensive financial plan to cover your costs. You would need a robust budget because your seasonal expenses can go up to $70,000.

How to Get Fishing Sponsors

Photo Credit – @ humminbirdfishing

If you’re looking to go pro, you probably know that sponsorship is vital to increasing your professional bass fishing earnings. However, the road to getting sponsorships isn’t a walk in the park. 

Here are a few steps to securing your fishing sponsorships:

Stay Consistent

Nothing proves your dedication like staying true to your course. Show up to tournaments, and compete at local and elite tournaments. Consistently showing up showcases your fishing skill and commitment. Sponsors can appreciate and sooner or later award those who work hard and stay consistent. 

Reach Out to Brands

Photo Credit – @ humminbirdfishing

Look out for brands you’d like to work with. If you’re missing specific fishing gear, check for brands selling that equipment and reach out to them. 

Brands you use regularly could also be great candidates for sponsorship and brands that share your passion for specific causes. You might want to look into brands involved in environmental conservation efforts or donate to fisheries if that’s your chosen cause. 

Send Out Proposals

After compiling a list of potential sponsors, it’s time to send out proposals. You can forward the requests to the company email or apply directly on their website. 

Consider making your proposal personal. These companies receive hundreds of these proposals, so personalizing your application is a great way to stand out.  

To better increase your chances, you’ll need to highlight ways you can help boost their sales in your pitch. Include details on how you intend to market their gear through social media or speaking events. Some fishermen begin with discounted prices and make their way up to full sponsorship. 

If you don’t hear back, don’t be discouraged. Consider reworking your pitch and try again. Lots of anglers have to send out multiple emails before they land a sponsorship.

Do a Good Job for the Brand

Photo Credit – @cjpjfishing

Once you’ve landed your first sponsorship deal, doing an excellent job for that brand is crucial to getting more gigs. Potential sponsors will look at your past relationships with sponsors, and past positive impressions will increase your chances of landing more gigs. 

Final Thoughts

Professional bass fishermen can earn anywhere between $13,149 to $350,382 yearly. Much of this revenue is from sponsorships and tournament wins. You’ll need to start competing, improve your skills, perfect your electronics, learn to cover water, learn from experts, and reach out to sponsors to make a modest income from professional bass fishing. 


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