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become a professional fishermen?
“Patience! Patience! Patience!” is the answer 34
year-old professional angler Mickey Thomas of Edwardsburg, Michigan
offers. The 2007 season
saw Thomas launch his professional debut on the Southern B.A.S.S. Open
Tour; however, his journey to this level began over 22 years ago.
Growing up with a father who’s an avid fisherman often creates another, but Thomas’ dad did more than take him fishing; he inspired him. “I remember the first keeper largemouth that I caught with my dad on my own. He got it mounted and hung it on my wall.” That trophy has hung and served as motivation ever since. After keeping that initial bass, he instilled morals in his son by practicing catch-and-release and sportsmanship.
dad also taught him how to have fun fishing, “Some of my
fondest memories growing
up did not involve catching fish. One time my dad and I went on a trip
catching them real good but then we tipped the boat over! We laughed
all day.” Clearly
his skill on the water began early as a child, but through the model of
he’s also learned to be sympathetic and encouraging to
others: “I was taught to
be positive when talking to other people about trying to get to the
You should never quit trying and always keep your dreams
Along the way of winning 70 tournaments and compiling over $60,000 in winnings the past 24 years, Thomas has become involved in his local fishing community. Not only did his club keep him busy, but he has also run a weeknight tournament series the past 10 years. He, and partner Dave Clark, worked with Northern Bass Anglers Association for a number of years before branching out their own circuit: Michiana Weeknight Tournament Series (www.michianaweek nighttournamentseries.com). They maintain 2 divisions run on Tuesday & Thursday nights. “We have a bunch of great guys that make this fun for everyone.” In fact, it’s considered one of the most competitive trails in the area. Each division averages nearly 30 teams per event. They finish each season with a classic event in northern Michigan that pays out to every team who qualifies.
While being a competitive angler and running the weeknight events, Thomas has also worked for several pro staffs which he feels has been pivotal in marketing himself. “(Pro Staffs) show potential sponsors that there are other people that trust and believe in me. I believe this makes it easier for them to extend sponsorships to me.” Case in point, today his primary sponsor is Galaxy 1. Thomas met the CEO, Bob Byrd, at a fishing show while working a booth for Shimano, whose pro staff he is a member. Thomas helped Byrd pick out several quality reels and the 2 have been friends ever since. It is because of the sponsorship with Galaxy 1 that he was able to compete professionally in 2007.
Fishing professionally has been a dream of Thomas since he was young, but it is for many people. Determination has been his cornerstone. “I have watched a lot of people not follow through on their dreams until it was too late. I didn’t want this to be me.” So during the time before the sponsorship of Galaxy 1, Thomas used all of his resources at home. “I did a lot of planning and research to investigate what it would cost and I worked especially hard for my sponsors and pro staffs. I always made myself available to them when they needed me.”
Thomas also emphasizes the importance of having a strong, supportive base at home before pursuing this lifestyle. Family and friends can make this a great decision or equally destructive, “I have seen the effect of not having these things in place.” Thomas has surrounded himself with family and friends that support him and he’s forthcoming in acknowledging his gratitude for them.
Most importantly, Thomas has continued to evolve as an angler. “I am still improving my skill level every time I go out. That is the main thing that you need to do, because even the best in the world, like KVD, will tell you that he learns something every time he goes out. You never feel like you have it per say, but every time you put into play the things that you have learned and it works, it gives you a feeling that you just can’t explain.”
also credits competing locally as an important step, “I think
that fishing is
just like any other sport. When you spend time on the water it will
better; the more competitive you are in your local area, the more it
want to expand on that.”
Patience has led to success for Thomas in a number of ways. It’s a principal in life that has led to success in his fishing aspirations. Do things the right way and surround yourself with supportive people. It just might be the right recipe to becoming a professional angler for you too.
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