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Support for fishing on the national level has never been better. Companies within fishing have always been there, but we are now seeing those outside fishing, non-endemics, jumping in, too.

Even a few years ago some dabbled in the fishing marketplace but didn’t grab hold. Not really getting the strength of numbers and loyalty of those in fishing, many came and left. However, due to the pros, pro leagues, grass roots trails and media coverage this past couple of years, companies are sticking their toes in the water and then diving in.

Some may have had sponsorships in other professional sports and either dropped those sponsorships or are sponsoring both. That is how it should be.

Fishing now has the numbers and unlike other professional sports, those who are fans can participate. You can’t do that in basketball or football. Seeing that, both at the national and local level, is exciting. There are several reasons, but the bottom line is companies are seeing the 60 million fans/participants of fishing as ripe for the picking.

This week is the Bassmaster Classic at Knoxville, Tenn. The Classic Outdoor Show there starting Friday may be the largest ever with regular fishing-related companies, but also more non-endemics taking a look at what fishing has to offer.

Being part of fishing is simple, but converting those in this space separates advertisers from partners. Being a partner to fishing means diving in and working inside the sport, not just spending money. Being engaged is critical.

The fishing business is different. Those in it want involvement from advertisers and those who recognize that will win, both from an exposure and sales perspective.

Due to increased competition among the professional leagues, the trickle down means more TV, visibility and exposure for individual anglers and the companies they represent. Comparing sponsorships and advertising costs to other professional sports, fishing is still the best bargain. Its CPM, cost per thousand views, is still very attractive.

Combined with how approachable participants are to fans, fishing has everyone beat. Fishing is still about America and that is very special in my book.

We now have three professional leagues, BASS, FLW, and Major League Fishing, and time will tell if they all have staying power. It simply comes down to dollars. The key will be non-endemic advertisers because those in the sport are spread thin.

Seeing companies such as Carhartt, LEER, Toyota, Under Armour, Geico, Superchips and others building their brands through fishing isn’t going unnoticed. More companies are testing the waters and I look for more from outside the industry getting involved. Fishing has yet to crest the hill and I see even more companies recognizing the possibilities moving forward.

Building brand awareness and strength happens at both the national and local levels.

We are blessed in our area having the Sam Leman Automotive Dealerships being involved. Sam Leman Automotive has been actively involved in our fishing and youth efforts for more than 10 years and developed the Sam Leman Outdoor Team.

They have been involved with the Sam Leman EverBloom Tournament Trail, the Clinton Lake Jackpot Trail and numerous other programs supporting anglers and hunters in Central Illinois, including the Prairieland Anglers, the Bloomington Normal Bass Club and many others with use of their resources and facilities.

It just keeps getting better and plans are underway for an outdoor extravaganza in the near future for all outdoors people at their dealerships. Selling cars was never in the plan for the Lemans, but giving back to those who purchase has been front and center.

Ben Leman was a leader who saw the potential of building an affinity group locally and it’s just getting started. The program has gained legs with fishing groups, but it is also about camping, hunting and bike riding. Stop by any of the dealerships and ask how you can be involved.

Permits

Don’t forget you need new boat permits for Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake for 2019. They can be purchased at the respective lake visitors centers. At Lake Bloomington, you will need proof of $100,000 liability insurance.

New fishing licenses will be needed after March 31 as well. You can get them at local tackle stores or online.

Terry Brown is President of Wired2Fish.com, an industry leading, daily website and social media fishing centered community that provides information on products, industry newsmakers and fishing techniques. You can read more by going to www.Wired2Fish.com.

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