Jason Mitchell Outdoors | A Career in the Fishing Industry

A Career in the Fishing Industry


Jason Mitchell

I used to get emails but over time with the explosion and popularity of social media, I now get messages.  Questions from young people who have a passion for angling and somehow want to get started in the fishing industry.

There are not a lot of avenues where young people can get good advice. There are many misconceptions about what you have to do.  There are also countless avenues to pursue.  Different people have different skillsets and the fishing industry truly does need every skillset.  There are probably more opportunities in the industry than what most would realize and despite what some people would have you believe, there are even some people who have made very good livings in the fishing world.  I warn you however that if you get into the fishing industry for only fame and fortune, your flame will fan out pretty quick.

Earlier this spring, Al Lindner called me and wanted to know if I would help him with his Fishing Careers Workshop.  What has always impressed me about Al is how selfless he is. He has been there and done that. If he wanted to, he could collect royalties and just fish on private lakes every day for the rest of his time on earth and take his knowledge to the bank.  Instead he keeps pushing, innovating and helping… trying to get the next generation ready.  Al and his son Troy started the Fishing Careers Workshop last year, not knowing how much interest there would be.  The event sold out and was the buzz of the industry last fall.  The interest was incredible, not just from young people who wanted to break into the fishing world but retired or middle aged people looking to find a second career.

I agreed to help this year and didn’t even have to think about it. I agreed to help because I made a lot of mistakes and went down some wrong roads and I wished there would have been something similar when I first started in this fishing game.  Ultimately, I got luckier than I could have ever imagined twenty-five years ago.  When I look back however, there is a bone pile of broken dreams, broken families and a whole list of people who were once in the game and didn’t make it.  There was also a whole lot of bad advice and bad assumptions floating around.  Of course everybody’s story will be different and each course is unique so I don’t have all the answers.  I can spot many of the people however, who won’t make it in the fishing industry… from a mile away.

You have to love fishing and the industry more than you love yourself. If you think this industry is all about you… you are in for a rude awakening because in the end, this industry is more about people than fish.  If the people around you don’t want to see you succeed, you probably won’t.

Growing up, there was a joke floating around that if you wanted to make a million dollars in the fishing industry, you started out with two million. For sure, that was the story of many people but there are also stories of people who started out with nothing and built a considerable net worth.  If you are going to make money and a good living in the fishing world, you have to be good with business or work for somebody who is good with business and contribute towards that business.

The fishing industry is no different than any other industry in that regard.  So many aspiring anglers get so wrapped up in how good of an angler they are.  No doubt that getting good at fishing is important for many careers but so many people completely overlook getting good at business.

I suppose what hasn’t changed is the perception of just how difficult breaking into the fishing industry is.  No doubt that many people fail but I also know that there are more opportunities than what most people would ever believe.  This industry needs guides, sales reps, television hosts, retailers, tournament anglers, marine mechanics and a host of other professions.  The Angling Career Workshop brings in respected industry professionals from several facets of the industry so that people aspiring to break into this business can get real advice and see real examples of successful careers.

Real advice is important.  I first started getting meaningful mentorship in my own career from Tony Dean in regards to promotional opportunities and later television.  I am very thankful for that.  What I remember and still see is the sheer amount of bad advice floating around that was usually given by people who had never paid taxes or filed anything with the IRS.  I remember many of these people fitting the old cowboy adage of “all buckle and no cows.”  They had the jerseys with every patch you could find.  Their pickups and boats were covered in decals and stickers.  They talked a big game yet couldn’t name the marketing director from a single company that was plastered on their chest or vehicle.  These people touted themselves as “professional anglers” yet had never filed a tax return with the IRS claiming any income.  Amazing how some anglers can be so professional that they never made a single dime.  If you want to make a real living in this business, you do need to be careful on who’s advice you follow.

The 2018 Fishing Careers Workshop will be held at Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake in the Brainerd Lakes Area on Saturday, October 27thand runs from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.  Information on registration can be found online at www.fishingcareersworkshop.com.  I personally know several of the speakers and they are top shelf.  Al and Troy Lindner will be presenting.  Eric Haataja, Joel Nelson, Ryan Dechaine, Jeff Gustafson, Tom Neustrom, Brett McComas are all people I have a tremendous amount of respect for and have worked with in some capacity on other projects.  All of these people have a great story to tell.  This opportunity is an opportunity I absolutely wished existed when I was 20 years old and green behind the gills.  This event will be life changing and special for some of the attendees because I can tell you this… there is nothing better in the world than getting paid to do something you absolutely love to do.  I can’t wait to wake up every morning and if I can personally help one other aspiring angler find that satisfaction in life, I will view this workshop as a success.

Do you want to make a living in the Fishing Industry? Co-hosted by Al and Troy Lindner and boosted by a line-up of successful professionals currently working…




About Author

Jason Mitchell is a professional angler, and outdoor writer. Host of Jason Mitchell Outdoors Television, he is a renown multi-species and ice angler, and owner of Devils Lake, North Dakota's, Mitchell's Devils Lake Guide Service.