So You Wanna Be A Fishing Pro?

By Ted Peck - August 1, 2009
An hour long phone conversation with Lake-Link's Darin Novak prompted this month's article. You won't find information on fooling August smallmouth or late summer panfish in the words that follow-although this is really what I want to tell you about.

If you're a Lake-Link member you're already somewhere between passion and obsession when it comes to fishing. At some point along the way you've probably entertained thoughts about being a fishing guide or an outdoor writer or a fishing tackle pro staffer or a top tournament angler.

Americans are wired to excel. It's only natural that those who see fishing as more than just a pastime would like some recognition beyond being just another face in the crowd. More than just 'Joe the fisherman' . Joe the guide, Joe the tackle rep, Joe the outdoor writer-or Joe the top tourney winner.

Say "Joe" and you imagine a guy on just a little bit of a pedestal. Everybody who counts has heard of Joe. He's a serious player in this fishin' thing we love so much.

How do you get there? It's all about time on the water and telling the truth.

You already have the passion and the drive. Now it's all about focus and thinking end point.

The fact that you're still reading this tells me you must have some curiosity regarding Valhalla status for your fishin' ambition.

Who the hell is Ted Peck to tell me how to get there, anyway. Truth be known, Ted Peck is just another guy with a fishin' fire in his belly and a God-given gift of communication. I fish at least 180 days a year and have done so since the 1960's. I have written at least one newspaper column, magazine article, or appeared on TV or radio every single week since 1973-and I've been guiding since 1976.

Mistakes? I've made them-and continue to make them-by the bucketful. That 'pedestal' thing is scary when folks look to you for answers when you haven't even figured out the questions yet.

You'll never go wrong telling the truth. Sometimes we stumble into a productive pattern. More often than not we find it easier to produce sound reasons-or excuses-why the fish simply didn't want to cooperate.

One thing I've learned after over 35 years in the fishing business is don't burn any bridges. Ranger, Crestliner, Lund-they're all good. Lindy vs. Northland, Rebel vs. Rapala, Frabill vs. Beckman or Dot Line nets-they're all good.

You'll feel pretty silly about that Yum tattoo on your bicep if the fish really want to eat Chompers and the folks at Chompers want to work with you.

Beyond not fouling your own nest, make every attempt to be an advocate for sport fishing. Fishing is a positive addiction. Share the fever.

But don't babble. Use the product. Learn the product. Tell the truth. If you can't say something good, say nothing. The fishing industry is very, very small. Word travels fast. Faster than ever before thanks to the internet.

Most important-go fishin'. It's all about time on the water. That thing Abe Lincoln said about fooling all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time has a serious caveat: If you aren't out there doin' it, those few who are out there every day doin' it will know. Phonies don't last long in this business. Neither to braggarts or those who say my product is super and yours is pure crap.

The thing which pops my circuit breakers the most is wondering where five decades on the water and sharing stories about fishing have gone.

One thing which hasn't changed is the fish. If you fish the fish and not focus on what other anglers are doing, what the weather or fishing reports say-just learn the fish and fish the fish-you can call yourself a pro.

It helps if you look to the fish rather than your peers for this designation.

Ask the next 10 fish you catch if they know they've been bested by a "pro". Better yet, ask the five that got away.

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.