So You Wanna Fish the Elites?

So how much does it actually cost to fish a season in the Bassmaster Elite Series? We know entry fees are going to cost you an arm and a leg, but what about all the incidentals—travel, food, lodging, all that fun stuff? Maybe I’ve missed it, but I’ve yet to see a big league pro come out and say how many greenbacks they actually burn through during an average year on the trail. That was until yesterday.

The boys at BassFan caught up with Louisiana pro Greg Hackney to get his thoughts about the new Classic berth structure, and Hack dropped this little tidbit in his response: “My opinion is they shouldn’t be adding people to the Classic who don’t have to beat the rest of us consistently. If I’m going to fish the Opens, it’s not going to be to make the Classic, it’ll be to make more money because my expenses are so high. I’ve been at this for awhile now and the hype’s kind of gone – I’m doing it to make a living and support my family, and right now it’s costing me about $90,000 a year.”

Sweet baby jeebus that’s a lotta dough! I don’t care how many fat-pocketed sponsors you’ve accumulated, working any gig that sets you back 90 large right out of the gate takes some serious juevos and one heck of an understanding spouse.

The vast majority of us will never get a sniff at the opportunity to fish for a living as a touring pro. But what about the guys that actually put it together, fish their way up the ranks and have to make the decision on whether or not to make the jump? Is there always going to be the guy that throws caution into the wind, risks it all and takes the leap? Sure. But I have to believe that many talented, qualified anglers (or their spouses) take a look at the pros and cons and simply say, “Forget it!”

I can’t think of anything that would be cooler than swinging a chunky largemouth into the boat and looking into an ESPN camera and yelling, “Look out Skeet, the J-train is pulling into the station!” (That’s my tagline. Yeah, it needs some work.) But in the end that’s just smoke, mirrors and a bunch of fluff. The reality of the whole lifestyle isn’t nearly that extravagant. I guess what I’m saying is, even if I had all the fish-catching prowess needed to make it happen, I’m just not crazy/stupid/risky/confident enough to throw 90 grand into what may end up being a colossal flop of an investment that takes me 40 years to pay off.

But, then again, maybe that’s why I’m not a millionaire mogul (like Jay Kumar) by now.

How about you? If Trip Weldon called you tomorrow and asked you to jump on the Elite wagon, would you go knowing the whole experience was going to set you back nearly $100,000 (in my middle-class world, 90 grand might as well be an even 100)?



  1. James Foster

    October 28, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Greg’s a two tour guy, right? Maybe he was talking about expenses for both.

  2. Craig

    October 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Good thing he won a half million in the FLW Championship in 2009. Adding up all the tournaments for 2010, including the Classic, Hack won $105500. That means he made $15500. You could probably make more as a greeter at WalMart and be home every night!

    With that high of expenses I think it has gotten to where it is a sort of private tour now with maybe one or two new members getting in every couple of years. If they get lucky enough to win a few times then they get “in” and accepted for the present time. If their personality is a right fit they get to stay. They get to stay for a long time even if they don’t win.

    • Tournament FISHERMAN

      October 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      CRAIG, that’s not how BASSMASTERS or FLW is run. In both you have to QUALIFY. Work your way up by being in the top 10 or 20 or 30, in lower divisions. NOBODY gets to stay in unless they WIN or requalify each year. Thier is no popularity involved or anything else, just QUALIFYING. There are many great young fisherman coming up every year. That sacrifice very much to live the dream. AS to the Quality of these fishermen, KEVEN VANDAM has fished FLW Tournaments but has NEVER WON ONE. FLW is the toughest trail out there.

      • Michael McCoy

        November 1, 2010 at 9:16 am

        Hate to bust your buble tournament fisherman. If you have $ you get to fish… It is that simple, and I have seen it happen time and time again. More so on the FLW side, then on BASS. If you call up and say you can pay for all your entry fees up friont, they will gladly let you in. Money talks!

        • Tournament FISHERMAN

          November 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

          IF, that was true, you would see a bunch of OLD RICH GUYS. Instead you see a bunch of young guys trying to make it. Living out of thier trucks. You CAN’T get in the TOP BASSMASSTERS series or FLW TOUR, WITHOUT QUALIFYING, IT does’t matter how much money you have. Any one can fish the tournaments below these, If you can afford it.

          • Michael McCoy

            November 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

            While I can not speak for the BASS Side (as for qualifing), I lived the FLW side for numerous years as a co-angler, and can say with 100% confidence (NO BS), if you have money they will let you fish (even beg you to fish, to fill the field). I have seen it with my own eyes, and asked the question to guys a dozen or more times how they got to that level. Sad but true!

      • Bobby Benbo

        November 28, 2010 at 6:44 am

        I believe KVD fished the complete FLW Tour for 1 season and won the Angler of the Year title. When I see the BASS guys go over to the FLW events, I see the BASS guys near the top of the leaderboards on most cases.

  3. The Average Joe Fisherman

    October 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Ah… ya… that’s a lot of dough. I can’t afford to fish if that is the case.

    Found your blog on OBN. Very nice… J-train. =_)

    The Average Joe Fisherman

  4. Charles Bowman

    November 1, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Heck, it takes money to fish at any level. Take the Bassmaster Weekend Series for example. You have (4) regular tournaments and one divisional (2) day championship. Entry fees for the whole thing…..$1,100. If you figure you practice the Saturday before and the Friday before, you’re looking at $100 bucks in boat gas and $100 bucks in truck gas for practice. Say for half the tournaments you have a hotel bill…..(2) x $70/night….then you have the gas for the actual tournament day….boat @ $60 and truck at $60 (twice that for the divisional). Heck, you’ve got $3,000 in it and have not bought any oil, lures, line, rods, reels, food, etc etc. A season costs me at least $8,000….not including boat costs.

    And I do this for fun! Not a living!

    Not to mention if you make a regional. I just finished fishing the Bassmaster Weekend Series regional on Buggs. I practiced (3) days and competed for (2) more. I rented a house on the lake that I shared with (2) other guys….my week’s expense……$1,200. I did make the National Championship, but turned down the invitation due to money and time…..or I would have spent another $2,000.

    If your boat is paid for, a person is looking at $12,000 to $14,000 to fish a full season….and by full I mean all the way to the national championship. I couldn’t imagine doing it for a living and multiplying that by (7).

  5. mdtolic

    November 2, 2010 at 10:03 am

    “My goal is to have a group of professional anglers on the Elite Series that don’t pay entry fees,” he said. “And I think that will change everything because it will make those guys so secure and strong, and in a place where nobody’s ever been yet.”

    – Jerry McKinnis, new co-owner of BASS, in an article on today’s

  6. Rynobass

    November 11, 2010 at 11:49 am

    All it takes to fish as a pro on the FLW Tour is money,if you have the cash your first tournament of your life you ever fish could be on the pro side of the FLW Tour,there are no other restrictions you pay your in and thats a fact.

  7. Champ188

    November 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Indeed, anyone who has the money to pay entry fees (or deposits) upfront can fish the FLW Tour. No qualifying required.

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