By Steve Graf
Are pro bass fishermen athletes? This is the same question that’s been asked about another sport. Are NASCAR drivers’ athletes? Well from my perspective, the answer is a resounding “YES,” but there are those who will try to make a case otherwise. To determine if professional bass anglers fall into this category, we must first define athletes. Webster’s definition states: a person who is trained or skilled in exercise, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.
Okay, now that we have defined the word “athlete,” let’s look at what anglers go through on a daily basis to determine if they truly fit into this category. A lot of today’s pros will tell you that professional bass fishing is a grind and is considered a young man’s sport. A professional angler hits his prime between the ages of 25 and 45. It’s not to say older anglers (above the age of 45) can’t compete, but their stamina (important by the definition) is not the same level as the younger pros. This is where older anglers may need to take supplements like Nugenix or Maximum Male in order to keep up! Young anglers today are on the water from daylight until dawn. This can make for some very long 10-to-12-hour days on the water. As any pro angler will tell you, that is the difference between being an average angler or a great one….time on the water!
Skilled is another word relevant to the definition. One thing pro angler’s take great pride in is their ability to cast and put a lure in spots that the average angler would never even consider. They can flip or cast a bait into a coffee cup at 25 yards. They can pitch or cast a bait under a boat dock with only a 2-inch clearance. If you want to be impressed, get in the boat with a pro angler and watch the skill level they possess. Just like a NASCAR driver, they also have excellent driving skills and can-do things with a bass boat that many only dreams about. If you get to spend a little time with a pro angler, it won’t take you long to recognize that touring pros are on another level from the average angler. Today’s touring anglers really do define the word “pro.”
The next word that’s part of Webster’s definition of an athlete is “agility.” Believe it or not, anglers today are a fit bunch overall. There are a few potbelly boys on tour, but most are health and fitness enthusiasts. You won’t find many of them eating a McDonald’s sausage biscuit combo for breakfast or two eggs over-easy with a side of bacon. They eat things like power and Nutri-grain bars, oatmeal, or fruit and bran cereal. They drink water and Powerade, or a healthy smoothie. Several anglers are addicted to working out whether it’s in the weight room or running marathons. Today’s anglers are not your grandpa’s professional anglers, these guys can leap small buildings with a single bound! They can hop up on the front deck quicker than Vice President Kamala Harris can deflect a question.
So, “Are professional bass fishermen athletes?” The answer is “yes”…for the most part. When you fish for a living day in and day out and are on the water 10 to 12 hours a day, it takes both strength and stamina. And just like any other sport, it’s also very important to be in great shape mentally. Mental health just might be the toughest and most important part of being a pro angler. The stress, strain, and pressure of trying to find and locate bass on a daily basis can be draining. There’s also the sponsor promotional expectations and obligations required of all pro anglers. They must make appearances and do seminars and radio/internet interviews while also maintaining and updating their social media status. Actually, the tournament itself is sometimes a relief that anglers look forward to the most.
I hope you now have a different level of respect for what it takes to fish at the professional level. It’s a sport that takes a special person or an athlete who can compete with the best anglers on the planet. To hear more about the bass fishing world, tune into Tackle Talk Live every Tuesday at 11:30 on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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