"What makes a Professional Tournament Bass Angler?" is the question asked in a post by bass fishing blogger Steve Adams. Steve has a bug stuck in his craw over the current state of affairs.
This is how he starts:
I would love to see ALL circuits that have a “Pro” category regulate who fishes as a pro! I can’t go buy a Jersey & a Baseball bat and walk on the professional Baseball field and say; “I’m a Pro”! Or ANY other professional sport for that matter! Neither should a guy be able to do that at a Bass fishing tournament event just because he has a boat and entry fee!!! They should have to QUALIFY!!!
On the Facebook page of Tami Curtis he goes so far as to say:
The EXACT problem, from a marketing perspective is that anyone can call themselves a professional. It Illegitimatizes the sport.
In his blog post Steve raises some legitimate questions in terms of the bona fides of some who don the mantle of Professional Tournament Bass Fisherman, but I think he fails to appreciate something that I understand quite clearly about this sport. The ranks of "Professional Tournament Bass Anglers" are largely made up of people that can most accurately be described as Semiprofessional Tournament Bass Anglers.
Semiprofessional is an adjective defined as "engaging in an activity for pay or gain but not as a full-time occupation." Clearly this definition fits most of the people who don the mantle of Bass Fishing Pro. All but a select few of the Professional Bass Fishing circuits are geared to the semiprofessional with maybe a few true Full-Time Professional Bass Fisherman sprinkled in the mix. Once you understand this, there is nothing illegitimate about it.
Now I think we in some sense get to the heart of Steve's, who is a Co-Angler, complaint when he says:
It really SUCKS sometimes for those of us who fish as amateurs, pay good $$ to enter, travel, multiple practice days, etc. Then get paired with someone who SHOULD NOT be fishing as a Pro!
Some Bass Pro's are obviously more dedicated and serious than others. This is a sport where money talks and if you have it you can spend it and be "Pro" competitor. The more serious and dedicated Pro's are more than happy to take the donations of those that have the money and don't take it very seriously. Co-Anglers get to play the exact same game to one extent or another but they have to deal with the variable out of their control, which is luck of the draw. I would venture to say that most Pro's take it seriously, but some are just more dedicated, skilled, and experienced than others. If you choose to be a Co-Angler you are always at the mercy of the draw, deal with it.
Update: Steve Adams left a reply to my post in his comments section.
In the key paragraph there he says:
No, I do appreciate and understand that quite clearly. You are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT in your description of “Semiprofessional” and just made my case even stronger with additional clarification of “the current state of affairs”. That IS the problem! The tournaments I’m larger referring to are “Pro/Am’s”. They are not called “SemiPro/Ams”
Yes, they don't call them "SemiPro/Ams", but that is exactly what they are. The FLW Tour is probably the only example of a Pro/Am where most of the Pro's are not Semi-Pro's. The B.A.S.S. Opens and FLW Everstarts are full of Semipro's that want to make it to the true Pro Tour level, which is the Elite Series and the FLW Tour. I think the PAA qualifies as a true Pro Level Tour as well, but I'm not sure if the PAA has a "farm system."