Hard work and compromise are the key factors in tournament fishing.  All across the nation anglers are finding just how much of each is required.   Many hours have to be spent polishing angling skills.  That is just the beginning.  There are just so many hours in the day, and tournament anglers learn early on that to compete one has to establish priorities.

“The thing that helps me,” says Jay Yelas, “is that fishing is my full time occupation.”  He points out that most tournament anglers have to make a living with a regular job and then fish tournaments on weekends.  That cuts into free time, normally spent with family.  To Yelas, time away from the family is the real tough part of tournament fishing.

Yelas is a veteran of the BASS and FLW professional circuits and a past winner of the Bassmaster Classic and BASS Angler of the Year.  He is one of an elite group of professional anglers who have made more than a million dollars in prize money in competition.  He also receives income from sponsorships and speaking engagements.

Being realistic in your expectations is very important to success in tournament fishing.  Jay recommends that anglers give tournament competition a shot.  At the same time, one cannot keep after it forever.  Competitive fishing can get to the point where the effort hurts you financially or hurts you family.

“I have to make quality family time a huge priority with both my wife and children,” explains Yelas.  Other wise he is convinced that problems in those relationships could develop.

Being a skilled angler and winning tournaments may not be enough.  Yelas explains that tournament anglers need to make family time a priority.  He has found that you have to work at it just as you work at your fishing and marketing skills.  Most anglers focus their time on fishing skills and marketing tasks for their sponsors.  Acquiring and keeping sponsorship is difficult and time consuming.

“I think the right way to do it is maybe set a goal of three years or so,” says Yelas.  His reasoning is that if you are good enough and you have a natural ability, in three years you will see the fruits of your labor.  He believes that three years is plenty of time to prove to yourself your ability to make a career out of fishing.

As the angler becomes more successful, the demands on his time grow.  There are demands for speaking appearances, seminars, in-store appearances, and other promotions for charity and sponsors.  All of these cut into family and fishing time.  Such activities should not be ignored, as there is only a certain amount of time to make the most of being in demand.

As the tournament angler becomes more successful, he also becomes more recognizable.  The public wants part of your time too.  They want to talk fishing and it is important to respect and respond to their desires.  Jay always tries to give them at least a bit of his time.

Jay Yelas is a proud American who has taken advantage of the opportunity to do what he loves.  He has found that if one has a chance to become a professional angler there is nothing holding him back from at least attempting to become successful in the field.  However, one must have balance in his life and that of his family.


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