Trying To Keep Pace With Modern Bass Fishing

by Steve Chaconas

By Steve Chaconas

Professional bass anglers pay tournament entry fees, travel costs, boat expenses and more, all the while trying to support a family, can put the sport out of reach for many new and veteran participants. 

   Tournament wins, top 10 finishes, and BASSMASTER Classic qualifications used to carry bass pros through several seasons, garnering media attention, endorsements and appearance fees. But outdoors show opportunities aren’t what they used to be. Retail sponsor Bass Pro Shops prefers content rather than in-store appearances. Pro income now comes from sponsors with a modest amount from tournament winnings. It’s not about winning and promotion, it’s about clicks…

  Competing for nearly 30 years, Triton/Mercury pro Brent Chapman has fished at the highest levels, including the Bass Pro Tour, Bassmaster Elite Series and Major League Fishing. Bassmaster’s Angler of the Year, Brent has four BASSMASTER wins, and 14 BASSMASTER Classics qualifications. Add qualifications for Major League Fishing’s Championship and MLF Bass Pro Tour Redcrest.

  Companies rely on marketing majors who stress social media to reach target audiences. Brent brings integrity into electronic media bits and bytes. Consumers are bombarded by YouTube content creators and Brent says, “There’s no other sport or profession where anyone can start a social media account and become an expert.”  Kids and fans can’t discern what’s relevant.  

   Brent’s wife Bobbi manages the fishing business, tracking social media stats daily to present to decision makers. Enabling Brent to focus on fishing, Bobbi schedules him to keep pace with sponsor content expectations. A professional company gathers media analytics, to show trackable exposures and impressions. Videos from unqualified producers motivates Brent to produce content. Together, they’re motivated to outwork everyone. 

   Past performances and reputation don’t play much of a role in corporate support. Sponsorship dollars are being cut or eliminated as independent tackle companies are bought out. Decision-makers are distanced from the frontline and sponsor dollars are distributed with policy over performance. The pie hasn’t changed, just the number of college and high school anglers taking a bite. Undeterred, Team Chapman pursues necessary sponsors.

  The couple has reinstated their fan favorite show: Pro Verses Joe, local experts fishing their spots in friendly competition with Brent, seen on the Pursuit Network, Tuff TV, Wired2Fish TV and

  Brent’s likeness and image represent quality to fans and endorsement value to sponsors. The advertising shift targets younger on-line consumers, even if they aren’t spending money. 

As companies target younger customers, Brent’s age has come up. In his early 40s, Brent says he can compete and win at any time and works to stay relevant with the times by expanding his social media presence. 

  Partnering with companies who align with their values, the Chapmans look forward to 2024 with new sponsors and big changes, relying on support from Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, Garmin Electronics, Bass Pro Shops, Costa Sunglasses, and Eagle Claw Hooks. 

  “Other pros have other sources of income. I’m all in…no other skill set.” Chapman focuses on maintaining the value of sponsorships for the next generation of career-oriented professional bass anglers. “You can’t lower your price. This isn’t a hobby.” 

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