Making Your Own Path in the Fishing Industry

The sport of fishing as we know it continues to grow exponentially.  Fly fishing, bank fishing, float tubes, jon boats, kayaks, canoes, bass boats, paddle boats, arm floaties, pontoons, mom and dad's speed boat, decked-out bass boats, etc.  As the vessels and technologies of each advance, we see the sport continually evolving.  Beyond the type of vessel/method you use, our sport has evolved even further.  We have tournament fishing, leisure fishing, fishing-when-the-wife/husband-lets-me, guiding, social media fishing.  Tournament fishing is spreading like wildfire (in a good way) thanks to technology, such as TourneyX.

The social media fishing scene also evolves constantly.  Prostaff applications now ask for your YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, website, and related information.  Some choose to use all of these platforms, some focus on one and supplement with another.  I focus on the blog/writing and Facebook, using YouTube and Instagram as an additional tool.  No matter your path, some find it difficult to find their own path in the sport.  I hope my experience helps you find your path.

In my experience, it is a delicate balance.  Diving into too many types can lead to excessive stress and burnout.  I am a bass boat/leisure-craft/jon boat fisherman turned kayak fisherman.  The kayak is affordable, low maintenance, has endless possibilities, allows me to rooftop on my car.  It has also got me on the biggest fish of my life.  Last year I wanted it all: a blog, a YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, tournaments, guiding, etc., etc., etc.

When I landed two epic bass over 6 lbs. last fall (epic by Wisconsin standards), I drove hard into the tournament fishing.  I was spending every hour after work and on the weekends fishing.  It quickly became a job.  I personally think there is a fine line between a career, a passion, and a job.  I never want to cross any of those lines, especially with my passion.  When I pushed one of my types of fishing too hard, my passion started showing signs of a job (exhaustion, lack of interest, etc.).  My wife noticed it too.

This is when I stopped to think what I wanted out of the sport.  I love writing, sharing my adventures and knowledge.  I love teaching people how to fish.  I love the leisure part of fishing.  I love tournament fishing, but get stressed if I push it too hard.  I thought about my priorities and passion.  In what order do I love these things about the sport?  I have a stressful day-job (IT Consultant), so the leisure aspect is most important.  A close second is writing and teaching others.  Third was the competition and tournaments.

I sat down with my wife and discussed these priorities.  She told me, "Don't let your hobby be your job."  It was clear my personality, day job, and family life did not cater to hardcore tournament fishing.  But thanks to TourneyX and KBF, I can still participate without pushing it too hard.

If I can find a way to make a career (key word career - not job) out of my hobby, that would be perfect.  But balance is key.  My wife and I discussed and decided my personality and passion would cater well to a guide/retail business in the industry.  I also love writing.  I do enjoy the tournaments, but need my passion to focus on the teaching/guiding/writing with the tournaments a bonus.  Enter my plan.

First, I continued sharing my stories through written word here on Small Craft Fisherman.  I am privileged to have the following I have.  I truly appreciate my readers allowing me to take control of their imagination for a short while, sharing my adventures and knowledge.  Secondly, I wanted to start a business.  Not an easy feat, and not for everyone.  But my day job pays the bills and I am relatively young.  Why not give it a shot?

Enter Small Craft Outfitters LLC.  I filed for the LLC, the EIN, state licenses, DNR licenses, built a website, social media, etc., etc., etc.  I've been blessed to have several top-notch companies in the industry agree to work with me in this adventure.  I personally use and fully support all brands we sell.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  We are starting small out of a home office to keep overhead low, but will be focusing on guided kayak fishing adventures.  We will also offer for sale all the products and brands we use for these adventures.  It is much easier to sell products we personally stand behind.  But I digress.

The goal of this story is to help you decide what time of fisherman/woman you are.  We can't all be Drew Gregory or Chad Hoover with shows/brands/YouTube followings/etc., we can't all be Ike and KVD with a laundry list of tournament wins under our belts, and we can't all be a writer/publisher like Chris Payne from Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine/Kayak Bass Fishing Blog.

Instead of trying to be like these giants in the industry, find your own way.  Just like they did.  Stop and think what drives you, what your strengths are, and what works for your current personal situation.  If your current situation doesn't allow for you to follow the path you prefer/excel at, draft a plan to get there.  As they say, "KBF wasn't build in a day.".....errrr was it Rome.....  Anyways, find your own path, follow your own dreams, your own way that works for you and your family.  If you don't stress over it and understand what you want you will find success while still enjoying the sport you love.  Trying to be like someone else will always lead to stress and burnout.  Your passion for the sport will become a job and your overall stress levels in life will skyrocket.

I am by no means a giant in the industry, nor do I want to be.  I just want to do what I love while helping others along the way.  If you are considering getting into the blogging, social media, or any aspect of the sport and would like some advice, I am more than happy to help where I can.  Drop me a line at

Tight lines my friends.