NPAA Conference Wrap Up

Bucks Skeeter Yamaha

NPAA LogoForestville, WI – The recently concluded National Professional Anglers Association annual conference, themed, “From Passion to Profession,” hit all the right notes. Anglers made new friends, learned from the 50 industry leaders in attendance, reviewed new products, schedules and programs, and heard from experts including keynote speaker ASA president and CEO Mike Nussman.

Nussman said working with groups like the NPAA will help achieve the ASA goal of attracting more fishermen into the sport. “We must broaden our appeal,” he said. The NPAA reached more than 20,000 individuals with their Future Angler Foundation schools and teaching events last year. “The NPAA members are opinion leaders, and people listen when they talk. It’s good to be working with them,” he said.

The learning continued when Jay Kumar, digital media expert, founder of, owner of BassBlaster, co-owner of Target Walleye/Ice, and media consultant shared some lessons and offered advice about digital media. He said, “Digital includes print, video, social, website, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, photos and all media, which today is changing rapidly.”

He pointed his finger at the 200 attendees and said, “Digital media is not optional if you are a professional angler or want to move up in the sport. You have to do it…and do it right.” Consumption of information today is personal, with individuals reading, viewing and depending on Smartphones as their contact with what’s happening. He offered two key tips: first, create content regularly, and secondly, only post content that’s interesting and mesmerizing. Action is best. New is good. Big fish are great. “If you can figure out electronics, GPS and global mapping, you can do this,” he said. “The business you’re in demands it.”

A professional panel of industry leaders, David Ittner, Yamaha; Michelle Kilburn, Mercury Marine; Cody Roswick, Pure Fishing; and Steve Lindahl, Ranger Boats, shared how best to get a toe in the door for sponsorships. The key points:

  1. Learn the programs and the timeline for submitting proposals/requests.
  2. Pro anglers are constantly under a microscope; dress and act like it on and off the stage.
  3. Be loyal.
  4. Never, ever bad-mouth products, either the ones you’re using or the competitors.
  5. Include a letter with a resume that spells out how you can help the potential sponsor.
  6. Remember, the industry is small, pro staff managers talk with each other.
  7. Be prepared. Know the product better than the reps.
  8. Always communicate professionally and on time, as required.
  9. All were reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous quote, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

Pat Neu, NPAA Executive Director cited some business facts of the organization, including that a total of 700 members belong, “But, we’ve barely scratched the surface,” he said. Supporting partners reached 55, plus 18 tournament and non-profit associate partners. Goals for 2016 are to diversify and grow the member base, attract new members to the annual conference, develop new revenue streams, increase the number of Future Angler events and become even more effective when working with members on fishing access, threats to fishing and other issues.

Col. Scott St. Sauver, a passionate angler, tournament competitor and commanding officer of Minnesota’s sprawling Army base, Camp Ripley, offered a very instructional seminar titled, “Ways to Create the Passionate Professional,” with these Top 10 points:

  1. Calibrate your attitude: How cool will tomorrow be?
  2. Say “Thank you.”
  3. Know your non-negotiables.
  4. Fail and fail often.
  5. Do what you say and say what you do.
  6. Manage your expectations.
  7. Share your knowledge.
  8. Rediscover your inner awesomeness.
  9. Put other’s satisfaction first.
  10. Understand passion and profession.

David Ittner, Yamaha, and Bob Luellen, Worldwide Marine Insurance received NPAA “Look to the Future” awards for their service with the Future Angler Foundation efforts. Kirt Hedquist was elected to the board, replacing Tony Puccio who has served for nine years. Hedquist joins Jimmy Bell, recently appointed board President, and Vice-President Stephen Picht also recently appointed, Secretary Barry Chouinard, and members Robert Blosser, Mark Courts, and John Gillman. A very successful Future Angler Foundation fund-raising banquet was also held with all proceeds going to the many youth events scheduled this season.

About the National Professional Anglers Association
The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) is a non-profit, member-based association dedicated to sportfishing. The NPAA’s membership is composed of professional guides, tournament anglers, angler educators and sportfishing/marine industry professionals who are passionate about the sport.

The NPAA’s mission is: To increase the professionalism of our members as we work to grow and protect sportfishing.

The NPAA is proud to have a very substantial list of Partners that support its efforts as an association. A complete list of those partners can be found on the NPAA Partners Page at

More NPAA partner, member and industry news can be viewed at .