January 2, 2002 by Rob Newell
Without a good internet, fax and phone setup, professional anglers face a huge handicap
On the water, Marty Stone is all business. Like any accomplished angler, Stone continually demonstrates the importance of having all of the tools of his trade at his immediate disposal. In his boat, in a carefully organized manner, reside all of the necessary gear and equipment for fishing success: rods, reels, lures, high-tech sonar units, trolling motors and GPS system. However, as all good professional anglers know, there are many other underrated tools that are just as invaluable for a career bass fisherman.
Back at home, in Kernersville, N.C., Stone has a business office in his house where all of the necessary equipment for the business side of fishing can be found: telephone, answering machine, fax machine, copier, and computer.
Although many anglers who aspire to reach the professional level of bass fishing have top grade fishing tools, many do not have the proper business tools of a professional businessperson.
A common complaint I hear from promotional people in the bass fishing business is that some anglers fishing on a professional level do not have a voice mail or answering machine on their phone. And if they do, the greeting message gives no indication that the caller has reached the home or office of the person they are trying to contact.
"I have an answering machine on my home phone and voice mail on my cell phone," says Marty Stone. "Each one has a greeting that makes it very clear that, `you have reached the Stone's,' and I can access my messages on both phones from anywhere."
Stone does not stop at telephone answering machines when outfitting a professional business office. Just as with fishing, Stone wants the right tools to do the job.
"In my opinion, a professional angler must have a home or office phone (with an answering machine or voice mail), a cell phone, a fax machine, a computer (with printer), and maybe a small desktop copier. Extras like color printers, big copy machines, and lamination machines certainly save time and can add a nice touch to certain presentations, but are not necessary."
Stone says that in addition to the phone, the fax machine and computer are relied on just as heavily.
"When it comes to sending forms, questionnaires, copies of letters, diagrams, or sketches, a fax machine is indispensable," says Stone.
Stone admits that he is technologically challenged when it comes to computers. But he has forced himself to learn word processing and e-mail programs, and suggests anglers who want to correspond in a professional business matter do the same.
"On the computer, I use the e-mail program for electronic correspondence and Microsoft Word to create word processing documents," he says. "An angler pursuing a professional fishing career these days should be able to get online, send and receive e-mail, write letters, and print documents.
Stone says his wife, Robin, is the "office manager," and uses the computer for more advanced tasks like graphic design and tax records. She uses Microsoft Excel program to create calendars that contain all of Marty's tournament and sponsor commitments for a full year. Even details such as accommodation confirmations are noted in the computer.
Robin Stone assembles Marty's portfolios with the computer, too. A combination graphic design and publishing software gives her the tools to compile a colorful and informative packet about Marty's fishing career.
Robin also has learned to utilize the computer for taxes.
"I use Quickbooks for taxes," she reports. "It took a while the first time I used it, but now that I have the program formatted for a professional angler's earning and spending patterns, it has made life much easier during tax time."
The cost of equipping a home office is not as bad as some may think. Home computer systems, complete with software packages and printer, can be purchased for less than a $1,000. Throw in a fax machine, Internet service provider subscription, and maybe an extra phone line for the fax or computer, and an angler can be "in business" for $1300 to $1500.
Stone says the only regret he has about a home computer system is that the unit is not portable. He recommends that anglers shopping for a computer think seriously about a laptop.
"Most laptops will do what desk top systems will do, except you can take a laptop on the road. That's an attractive feature when you are the road three to four weeks at a time."
If you are serious about your professional fishing aspirations, it would be wise to take a page from Marty Stone's notebook. Outfit the business side of your fishing with the same degree of interest as you would the fishing side. Remember, not having a way to retrieve phone messages while at a tournament should be just as unthinkable as leaving your rods and reels at home.