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Are Pro Fishermen Really Pro Athletes?

Posted by todd on November 26, 2013

One of the things that always gets my attention at the end of the fishing season is just how much abuse our bodies take as professional anglers. I’m sure there arguments on both sides of this question, but I have to ask it anyways – are pro fishermen really pro athletes? I’m going to argue that we are. Take a look around at the top FLW Tour pros and I guarantee that you will find that most of these names could outperform most others in their age group in a CrossFit competition. Some of these guys are even former pro athletes. 

In my opinion, the sport has evolved – the more endurance you have and the more mentally tough you become, the more it shows in the standings. Guys like Tharp, Christie and Dudley all come to mind – these guys are athletes and I believe it’s a reason why they are among the best in the sport. And it’s why I spend a lot of time in the gym both during the season and in the off-season. In order to keep up with the young guns in the sport, it’s not an option for me at the age of 37 to stay out of the gym.

Let’s start with the physical aspects of this sport. We endure long boat rides, some of which get very bumpy and violent at times, at speeds of 70-plus mph. This puts a lot of stress on our back and core muscles through severe punishment. And if your body isn’t strong, you will certainly feel sore the next day. In practice, we’re sometimes on our feet for 12 to 14 hours a day while making thousands of casts. Can you imagine a baseball pitcher throwing a thousand pitches over 12 to 14 hours, doing it repeated for four days in a row? Thankfully, FLW gives us a day off between our three-day practice period and our four tournament days. At least that day gives our bodies and our minds a chance to recover, along with time to reconnect with the world. 

Nutrition also plays a big role. The pros that I know who work the most hours and have the most endurance have all found ways to hydrate and feed their bodies properly so that they can keep up the pace. Most pros that I know will absolutely insist that you use a fuel additive when fueling up your boat to protect your boat’s fuel system. So why don’t we take the fuel we need for our bodies that seriously? Instead of sodas full of sugar or candy bars that cause your body to crash, replace those with water and healthy sports drinks that replace electrolytes. It’s also important to eat every 3 to 4 hours. There are plenty of foods that are convenient for your boat – you don’t have to settle for canned meat, crackers, and candy bars. Try to stock up on foods like almonds, carrots, oranges, cheese slices, bananas (yes bananas are in my boat), beef jerky, CLIF bars, celery sticks, yogurt cups and turkey slices. These healthy foods will keep your internal motor running all day long. 

Not only do exercise and nutrition play a role in the daily grind as a pro, but I believe that it helps with enduring a long season. In my opinion, the angler who thinks of himself and trains as an athlete has an edge … don’t you agree?