Having charted the numbers in recent years, there has been a clear trend relative to risk-rewards in pro level tournament fishing. Quite obviously, the risk has not matched up well with potential rewards and we saw that yet again with the Everstart Tournament at the Delta a few days back.

The winner? He did okay. He already owned a boat dealership and could probably sleep in his own bed en route to a nice win. But many did not–or could not.

Everybody sort of knew that when FLW dropped the entry fee down to $1000, the payout would shrivel. But when I look at the points standings (and prize winnings for the year’s three events) it’s pretty sobering. Can you imagine, the pro who stands in 13th spot overall after three events has logged winnings of only $248? Living upstate where most of the Everstarts are this year, his expenses are lower, and top 13 is still very good. But $248 is not.

Chatting with Joe Uribe, Jr. from Anglers Marine and running 5th place in the points, I learned it costs him $2000 for each tournament he fishes on this tour–$1000 entry and $1000 for assorted expenses. Yet, after three events, Uribe has $3,798 in the win column.

By contrast, the points leader, Jeff Michels of Lakehead, has earned $23,790. First or second place keeps you ahead, but after that, the margin over the assumed $6000 expense threshold for three contests is tight. I counted only 13 of 225 anglers who fished the pro division who exceeded that threshold–recognizing those closer to the NorCal venues probably don’t have the full $1000 in expenses beyond entry fee.

On the other hand, how many of those upstate fishermen would participate if the circuit was clustered mostly around the Colorado River and Central Arizona? (I think we know the answer).

Yet that’s where we are today in the West. And even I did not think it would get this bad.





13 Responses to “Even I didn’t think it would get to this…”

by Guy Williams

Exactly why I got away from “Pro” tournaments. I’d rather make a living with benefits and a retirement plan than follow hopes and dreams to the homeless shelter.

Ditto George! my friend Miles Howe who is overall 3rd and took 5th in this event (while taking home almost $7K) is still out thousands in fishing the other two events at Oroville and Roosevelt and those outlays just to get ready for these events.

by George Kramer

And there’s just no quick fix, Mike. Chasing a tour is just not that gripping for most guys–regardless of how much we like the competition. Furthermore, the longer guys stay away, the easier it is for them to find other things to feed the beast. I still believe a showcase event (or maybe two) a year is the better course of action. I just wish I was better at it. 😉

by Darrin Bishop

Take into account how many don’t qualify for the Ranger Cup bonus, me included. Where’s the draw?

by George Kramer

As you point up, Darrin, when attendance is down, incentives go down–which further fuels lower attendance. It’s a tough cycle to climb out of and makes it very tough to run a sponsored tournament business. What is there to sponsor?

125 boats is a darn good turnout in my book. Miles Howe is having a blast out there BTW, and my guess is he has budgeted it in for the year with his family, win or lose. If you cannot afford to go then dont go. Upper level Tournament fishing is not for everyone. Its a Ranger event, and they spend the time and money to support fishing out here so if the Everstarts are your passion and your in it to win it, better be compliant.

by George Kramer

I agree: 125 boats is a “darn good turnout” in today’s tournament landscape. The competition is good; the sponsor support is great. Yet in the end, the customers (individually) will decide the fate of this and every other circuit.

by Guy Williams

Also, I would add that the cost of boats,trucks and also daily living expenses are way higher than 10 years ago (when won bass had up to 180+ at some tournaments). I don’t think that most people’s income has followed the same path which takes a lot of people out (mostly young anglers might I add). Until the next money boom happens (which might be never) higher end tournaments will flounder or fail compared to the past. Anything over 75 boats is great right now in these events!

Everything costs more in California too. As an example, just cross the border into Nevada, and you’ll see a .40 cent drop per gallon of gas.

It’s always been rich guys with time off. Or guys who go broke fishing. It’s more about getting a good job with time off,or have successful business allowing time off. More so than talent,ability. Imagine my college baseball coach telling me another guy is taking my place on roster cause he has more money.

Also George, the anglers have seen what its like to fish a well ran, organized and supported event. Whoever decides they want to come along and challenge for the Pro/Am or Pro/Co business, better have deep pockets, nice weigh in facilities with internet live feeds, and great paybacks that does no involve the participants fishing for their own funds.

P.S. Miles was in shop today and has won over 9K so far this year and is in the black so far. Also said he would not trade the fun he is having for anything else. Has gained a ton of experience and met lots of new friends along they way. “Looking very forward to Clear Lake” are his exact words.

Good for Miles – wonder what the people who have dropped out or scaled way back have to say.

What kind of numbers would a tournament like this have drawn 10 years ago? 20 years ago? 30 years ago?