UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

What Success Looks Like

What Success Looks Like
Eric Jackson

Eric Jackson

(The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)


We all view success differently. In fishing, one obvious form of success is winning the tournament. That certainly is the classic and a critical component to success, but only one person can win any tournament. What about the other 164 competitors on the FLW Tour? Are they all failures?

This article is about taking control over your own success and the happiness that goes with feeling successful. First, let’s get some definitions out of the way. “Success” and the outward trimmings of success are two different things. Success IS internal, and one person’s view of it isn’t the same as another’s. Outward trimmings of success are totally different than real success. Outward trimmings are what others see, such as money, fame, a big house or being popular in a crowd.

Anyone who reads about famous people knows that many people who have outward trimmings in abundance don’t feel successful, but feel like failures. Drugs, family issues, depression can all be found with people who look successful on the outside just as often as those who don’t appear successful.

Somebody once showed me a study that put professional bass fishing at the very top of the list of high-stress jobs. This isn’t surprising, as the odds of winning a pro tournament are not very high, and those who have won expect to win again, yet it might be years before that happens. Mark Rose became the first fisherman in the 20-year history of the FLW Tour to win back-to-back tournaments this year. He stated very clearly that he expects to finish in the middle and the bottom again sometime soon, as that is the way this sport goes. Mark has a good understanding of what success is about, and he would say he was successful long before he won the first two events of this season.

Let me give you two quotes that I believe provide the strongest guide for being successful, and for being happy.

“The secret to success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“True happiness ... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller

Notice that neither happiness nor success in these quotes has anything to do with goal achievement. However, if your worthy purpose is to be a pro fisherman, and you want to be successful, staying on that project (constancy) is the secret to success. You will gain the knowledge and skills, and see tournament success over time, which are your outward trimmings of success. You will also be happy in that you are in it for the long haul, and committing to something important to you is one way to stay happy.

A short-term approach of giving it a try and only continuing on if you succeed doesn’t work. Our sport has too many facets to it to get them all down quickly. Those rookies that seem to do so well usually have already cut their teeth on local tournaments, and while they are rookies on Tour, they are not rookie tournament fishermen.

This is all theory, so far …

Here is a practical guide to being successful as a tournament fisherman today, while you work toward an AOY, tournament wins or championship wins.

 

1. Set your priorities related to your life and how tournament fishing fits in.

Mine goes like this: 1. Wife. 2. Kids. 3. Kayaking/fishing. 4. Business.

Find solutions for assuring that each of your priorities can be taken care of the best you can, and that those solutions aren’t mutually exclusive. An example: I bring my wife and kids in an RV to go to kayaking/fishing events, so we are all together and can have a life together, even when I am fishing/kayaking. My wife’s priorities are me, kids and then gardens/chickens, so she also is happier being with me on Tour.

 

2. Know that you can’t get everything you want right away and that the journey – not the end zone – is the reason for the commitment to the sport.

You will spend 1,000 times more of your time along the journey than you will in the end zone. Winning a tournament isn’t worth an unhappy journey. A happy, meaningful journey creates the sweetest wins.

You will make less money, spend more money and take more time than you expect. You will need to set expectations related to money that are functional and that everyone you affect can agree to.

Even as experienced as I am with this one, over the past 30-plus years as a pro athlete, I have a hard time admitting just how little I might earn in prize money from time to time.

You can’t put a timeline on success. If you’d asked me last year how many top 20s I would have had, I would have said three. I had zero, and zero checks. If you’d asked me before this year how many top 20s I would have, I would have said three, plus one top 10 and five checks. I have fished three tournaments this year without a check yet.

I will be winning money, winning events and seeing my name on the AOY leaderboard on the home page of FLWfishing.com during my career, but I can’t tell you exactly when yet. For that reason, I had better be planning for the long haul. I also had better learn to enjoy the ride I am on today.

Don’t count on winnings to make it financially. It is much easier said than done to earn enough support from sponsors to cover all of your expenses, and even harder to live off of them, too. However, success on Tour is much easier to achieve when you are fishing to win, or do the best you can, and you aren’t making every cast as if your next meal depends on it.

I have lived for more than 15 years as a poor professional kayaker, with a family that struggled every day to put food on the table. Even then, I never entered a competition with the idea that the winnings would be my supply of money. I found other ways to get food, and treated prize money like a bonus. This makes being successful as a professional fisherman much more in your immediate control. Over the years I have borrowed a lot of money to bridge the gaps. I have never regretted that, and am so lucky that I never gave up when things got hard. Eventually I become a leader in sponsorship earnings in my sport, and the prize money followed as well.

 

3. Know that this is a team sport. Yes, you are competing as a solo pro, but by bringing a team of people along for the ride, will you be more successful and happier, too.

FLW as an organization is a great example. This is a group of people doing their best to make the organization fly each year. If they are not successful, the anglers can’t be successful, and even worse, they can close their doors forever. I take an “ask not what your organization can do for you, ask what you can do for your organization” approach to my relationship with FLW.

Anglers who are desperate for every advantage and believe their success is linked to withholding information to prevent others from doing well are on the wrong track. Helping others catch more fish will help you catch more fish. Get out of the mosh pit of selfish non-helpful anglers and do what you can for others. Don’t expect anything meaningful in return, but it will come. Winning a tournament without any help is much more difficult. Yes, you will help others that don’t reciprocate well from time to time, but you will become closer friends with the high-quality characters on Tour by being a genuine, honest, dependable, helpful person that can be counted on. Those quality people will have your back, and you won’t be going it alone.

As far as sponsors go, there are only so many moments that FLW can give you on stage to plug sponsors. Focus on what you can do all year long, during the offseason, and think of sponsorship like a job that you report to each week, or each day, not only during tournaments. See my sponsorship article related to that for detailed information on how to get and keep sponsors.

 

Eric Jackson

Find success

If you are like me, you don’t like losing. I don’t like being ranked 117th after three events like I am today. I want to be ranked No. 1, like you do. But I wouldn’t trade my current career as a pro for the career of anyone else on Tour today.

Losing in tournaments and being successful can be accomplished at the same time, and this article’s objective is to help you redefine success, while increasing your chances of achieving the win at the same time.

There are always times that are stressful and hard, and I beat myself up over getting a zero on a tournament day. But that lasts for only a few minutes as I know that I want to be doing this and that this is part of the deal, at least for now. My wife greets me with a kiss and a “sorry, you’ll do better next time.” My son can’t wait to play with me, and I have wonderful friends who are supportive. I always seem to get a good word of encouragement from Bill Taylor, the tournament director, as well. “Eric, good job. You are getting better at each tournament,” he tells me.

If this is the foundation I have to work from, then I am all in. Of course, I, too, dream of winning that final weigh-in at the Forest Wood Cup and sharing with everyone how I caught my big bags of fish to take the championship. In the meantime, I’ll be having a blast, learning as fast as I can, and am there with help if you need any.

Tags: eric-jackson  blog 

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »

How to be a Pro Angler 

How to be a Pro Angler 

I get a lot of questions from young and old anglers alike about the steps to becoming a pro. I guess maybe sometimes I take it for granted. The process seems somewhat obvious to me. How to execute on it might not be simple, but the steps you need to take really are. There are only a couple of ways to get into this sport, and they all start at the grassroots level, in $200 and $300 tournaments.  READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.   READ MORE »

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been. Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. READ MORE »

Moving into My New Office

Moving into My New Office

The new year to many professional fishermen also means a new boat. Some people like the smell of a new car — who doesn’t, really? But the smell of new fiberglass is better than that. It’s better than the smell of warm apple pie to me. READ MORE »

How to Work in Fishing

How to Work in Fishing

There was a time when the only way to make money at fishing and to express your love for our sport was by fishing tournaments, but that’s just not true anymore. With the growth curve we’ve had, the economic muscle of the fishing industry has spawned some interesting opportunities that didn’t really exist years ago.  Now, there are many jobs in the fishing industry that allow someone with a creative mind to indulge in what they love to do. I get to be around a lot of pros, but my job has also brought me into contact with a lot of folks with other jobs in fishing. So, here are four people I think you should follow and study if you know you belong in the fishing industry, but you don’t know exactly where yet. READ MORE »