The National Professional Anglers Association annual conference drew a record number of industry leaders, experts in every aspect of business, and pro fishermen to Minneapolis Jan. 3-5.  They came to network and become more professional in their roles in the outdoor and fishing world.

“The theme was Motivate and Inspire, and every speaker and especially keynoter Ron Lindner hit it out of the park,” said NPAA executive director Pat Neu.  “It’s amazing what we accomplished over the weekend.”  The key note address by Fishing Hall of Famer Ron Lindner was especially poignant from a man who has lived and breathed fishing, publishing, tournaments, and business success for half a century.

Lindner said it was time for an adjustment, and he did not see anything on the economic horizon that bodes well for an explosion in more marketing money.  “Nobody is going to pay you just to fish,” he said, “Sponsors are looking for people who can move product.”  He urged those who want to make a living in the fishing world to use tournament successes as a springboard for getting in front of dealers and consumers by going into bait shops and sport shows and selling.  Lindner said, “Sponsorships are not what they used to be.  Sponsors learned something – they can get you guys for less than you’re worth.”  He advised, “Fish the competitive events that pay well and fit your budget and schedule. Select what you do; pick and choose.”

Dozens of topics were addressed from marine insurance to taxes to new products to a Future Angler Foundation banquet.  Speakers included Tommy Skarlis, a multiple winner of walleye and crappie tournaments and championships.  His enthusiastic talk reminded the hundreds of NPAA members to, “Promote like you can’t fish.”  He offered his life as an example when he realized the only person he had the power to control was himself and said, “Always be positive, never quit trying new things, give away your secrets, share the truth and passion.  Better yet, change one life by taking someone fishing.”

Neu’s executive report highlighted 2013 accomplishments, and included:

  • The organization now has 65 Supporting Partners (47 industry; 12 tournament; 4 club and 2 non-profit partners); Supporting Partners in 2009 = 9 total.
  • There was a 10 percent increase in membership.
  • NPAA members conducted 93 Future Angler events for 11,200 youngsters, 6,500 parents, gave away 1,950 rods and reels, 1,000 books and 2,250 t-shirts.
  • The Future Angler Foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization and raises money to help support NPAA Future Angler Events.
  • NPAA joined the American Sportfishing Association.
  • NPAA continues industry networking.
  • NPAA is poised to grow and diversify the membership base to include more guides, industry, charter captains, high school and college anglers.
  • A new member drive was announced and will run through the 1st Quarter
  • The 2015 annual conference dates are Jan. 2-4, 2015

Pat Neu presented Keith Kavajecz with the NPAA Lifetime Honorary Member award for service to the NPAA as a past board president during the formative years.  David Nichols received an Outstanding Service award for chairing the legal affairs committee.  He said,” We all do this because we love and want to grow the sport.”  John Gillman was honored with the “Look to the Future” Award for his company’s product contributions.  His company donates 1000 Future Pro T-shirts for NPAA youth events each year.  He said, “We’ve got to get the youngsters interested in the sport early.”  James Keller was recognized with an additional “Look to the Future” Award recognizing his foundation’s financial contributions to the Future Angler Foundation (FAF).  The FAF helps support the NPAA Future Angler Events with product that is given to young anglers at the events. Outgoing NPAA secretary Cody Roswick received an Outstanding Service award for his diligent work as secretary and past executive director over the past 6 years.

Business-wise, the NPAA members re-elected Robert Blosser to the NPAA Board, and he was reappointed president.  Mark Courts was named vice-president.  Barry Chouinard is the new secretary.  Jimmy Bell was also elected to the board.

The Saturday conference proceedings were live-streamed online at npaa@npaa.net to more than 5,000 viewers.

Logo courtesy National Professional Anglers Association

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