All tournament anglers want to win. The questions are: How bad do you want that win? How much are you willing to sacrifice? How much are you willing to put on the line chasing the big win?
The answers aren’t cut-and-dry or crystal clear. Most tournament anglers I know are perfectly content competing at the club and local level for beer money. But don’t underestimate the will of those guys either. I recently competed in a Deerpoint Team Trail event with Travis Poole in which a win would have been a few hundred dollars for us to split.
It was a low threat, low entry fee, and big fun. You’d think that given the conditions that day, any sane man would’ve stayed at home. Approximately 4 inches of rain fell that day, the wind blew and lightning popped around our heads all day. Still, most guys that entered the event that morning brought their catch to the scales in the pouring rain hoping to claim the prize. The weather didn’t seem to dampen their desires one bit. They wanted it bad enough, at least they did that day.
For the professional angler, the weather is just one of many elements they must fight to stay in the game. Family, sponsorship obligations, mechanical problems and financial burdens are just a few of the non-fishing issues that require an angler to do a gut-check nearly every day. All these things must be tended to before the angler can even set out to find fish for a coming event, and he’s usually a one-man crew. Some of the top touring anglers have support networks taking on some of this for them but rest assured, they didn’t get there with them. Stories from many of the top pros sound the same, tales about sleeping in the cab of their trucks for weeks on end, dining on peanut butter day after day, selling possessions off to fund the next event, and practicing in horrible weather because they only have two days to figure out unknown waters.
If there was one thing I could define that separates the successful tournament angler from the others, it’s this: he wanted more.
The guy in this picture is my friend Johnny Nguyen. He is a great example of what I just described. I can’t tell you how bad he wants it, but I can tell you he possesses at least one critical element for fishing success: the undeniable, unflappable, hard-core love for the sport. No tournament here, just him out fishing on a day he probably shouldn’t have been. But there he is, doing what he loves. Some get it, others never will.
Randy Cnota is the co-publisher of Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine’s Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition. Check out YouTube page.