ANGLER'S MAIL editor Tim Knight discusses angling jobs and how to get a job in fishing. Share the blog with friends on Facebook and Twitter by clicking icons above, or simply by telling people!

 

“I love fishing. My dream is to work in fishing – please can you tell me how I do it?”

 

EVERY so often I get a polite email for help to the effect of the words above, from anglers seeking a long-term path into the sport.

Practically every day I’ll get a blunt “Read my blog/watch my video/like my Facebook page”, “I caught X, Y, Z will you sponcer (sic) me?” and “Give me a column in your Angling Mail…”

It sometimes seems everyone wants a break into the angling game. Fair play. And with the false illusion of a cushy number with perks galore, that’s no surprise.

Jobs in angling are few and far between. Pay is falling in real terms. Freebies are rare.  Companies and employers have tightened up to compete more efficiently.

I know of redundancies in many sectors over the past year, and have seen it at first-hand throughout print-based journalism in nearly all markets.

This website started an Angling Job of the Week post five years ago but we’ve only been able to update it sporadically, such has been the caution in the industry. Also angling job promotion rarely strays far beyond a company or venue’s base.

As I refresh this blog in January 2018 (having written an initial version in 2013) there are not a lot of jobs going, if you rely on the internet…

Angling Direct, the still-expanding nationwide chain of tackle superstores, reveals via its Twitter feed that it needs some shop staff in Kent.

And Essex-based carpy giants, Korda, also via their social media, have a graphic designer role going.

There are no roles at the Angling Trust apart from volunteer opportunities, with the usual form and information to enable you to apply.

The Trust has, in recent years, often had a paid option or two on its website, albeit on year-long contracts due to funding uncertainty; a sign of the times.

Some of its assorted voluntary positions pay expenses but most are unpaid. As with getting involved with a local angling club as a volunteer, it is what you make it: possibly your gateway, a chance to grow skills and knowledge within and around angling.

There’s not much else in UK angling being actively advertised as this blog ‘refresh’ went live early in 2018.

Yet it still amazes me how many people are making a living in angling. Most of these folks are supreme grafters, but even today a surprising minority are inefficient individuals.

I remember one noted tackle brand leader told me he’d had a nightmare with sales reps in the UK.

He fell hook, line and sinker for the patter and angling knowledge but then later unearthed a trail of skiving and poor performance.

He even wondered if it was part of a “British disease”!

I’d like to think he was simply unlucky…?

There are sadly less local tackle shops than ever… but you never know. A shop near you, or a fishery, may need someone to do something, even for just a few hours or occasionally. ‘Sell yourself’, be polite and be patient. Try a few months later if there’s nothing going currently. Don’t ask to be paid at first… and you won’t be disappointed.

My way into angling employment

It really is a golden opportunity to work in any field that you genuinely find interesting – angling or any other hobby.

Cleaning filthy rooftop air conditioning and beyond-dull training as a tax officer were just two jobs I instantly realized were not for me. But they were a means to an end at the time.

My lucky break was cleaning maggots – I wanted it and loved it so much that I didn’t care what the pay was. A new shop was opening, still sorting out its the fixtures and fittings, so I just walked in and asked if there was anything going, even just for a few hours.

It helped that I loved maggots, and didn’t mind getting filthy and smelling of ammonia, or picking rancid dead brown skins out of casters.

The wide world of retail has changed immensely since then. The amount of live bait that needs tarting up at tackle shops is a lot less because anglers’ choices and fishing styles have changed. Plus there is sadly a heck of a lot less local tackle shops than when I was growing up.

If I was packing bags of boilies or pellets today, I know I’d find it darn sight more rewarding – mentally – than stacking washing powders on supermarket shelves or shifting anonymous boxes behind the scenes. And I’d give it that little bit extra ‘oomph’ every day.

Who makes money in angling today?

So where do the lucky people earning an angling living – basic or otherwise – actually come from now?

I looked around people I know in the media and promotion side – on mags, websites and at assorted manufacturers and suppliers.

The lucky few came straight from college, or more likely gained experience via similar non-angling roles. Starting wages can be very low.

Others got into the game through the fisheries management and fish husbandry world, studying at colleges like Sparsholt, Hadlow, Plumpton, Bedford and Bridgwater.

These fine centres provide excellent knowledge and hands-on skills to those who get the entry qualifications, get accepted and apply themselves. But at the end of the course they cannot issue an automatic leaving pass into any job.

Some guys I know switched from non-angling media, or studied some kind of media course, building up a portfolio of credible work beyond “head-down, no-smile” snapshots of 20s and 30s carp.

Of course, without any formal training, the modern tools at your fingertips right now – as you read this blog – are potentially more empowering than you may realise.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops…. they all mean you can create and grow your own online portfolio too via social media channels and your own website.

Throughout their rise to the top of the fishing vlogging world, Carl & Alex filmed all their sessions themselves with surprisingly simple camera kit. It helped that they were naturals on camera, fine anglers… and willing to work very hard on editing their footage back at home.

Case study: Carl and Alex Smith

The inspirational duo Carl and Alex Smith have impressed anglers of all ages in the past decade, and how they made it to jobs in angling via ‘new media’ (not so new now) is worth a quick look.

The Sussex boys were not even teenagers when they started making videos, learning as they went via their channel, which is still a YouTube ‘must-watch’ for me.

When not at school, doing homework, editing video or – most probably – fishing, they blogged and vlogged for this Angler’s Mail website. When they did some work experience at Angler’s Mail HQ, we enjoyed their enthusiasm, humour and  video-making ability.

Work experience pupils taken in by the Mail have, touch wood, all realized that building their CV with unpaid shifts, doing whatever is asked, and doing it willingly, is the way to get on.

I know Carl was snapped up in a paid job after leaving college for the Fishing TV channel, soon moving on to Nash for their in-house online filming and editing. Mr UrbanBanx, Alan Blair, had Carl firmly on his radar well before snapping him up!

After finishing a college fisheries course, Carl’s younger (and even taller) brother, Alex, went the same route to work in a paid job for Nash. To their credit, they both maintain their independent Carl & Alex own YouTube channel – and that in itself still earns them next to nothing, they recently revealed.

Believe in yourself, work hard – YOU can do it!

So how do we conclude? What is the answer to the theme of this blog?

  • Ask questions – don’t be afraid to sound stupid.
  • Learn from your mistakes and from other people.
  • Give it your all.

Whenever AM have advertised for a job (rarely as staff tend to stick around) most applicants brag about their catch results, as if that’s the thing to prove worthiness to a potential employee. It isn’t.

If this blog sounds discouraging, don’t let it be. Working in angling is fun and it’s ever-changing. So often it rewards you in ways that money cannot buy. And it is not an impossible aim.

There will always be an opportunity going somewhere for the keenest and the most talented.

Sincere good luck if getting into the angling game is your dream. If you want it badly, and give it your all, you can make it happen.

 

* EMPLOYERS – GOT A JOB VACANCY TO PROMOTE? Email me the details to tim.knight@timeinc.com One of our readers could be the perfect applicant!

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