3M pro Ray Scheide and Kellogg’s pro Greg Bohannan told young fishermen hoping to follow in their footsteps that a degree will be as important to their futures as a boat and tackle.
Scheide was as an electrician before joining the FLW Tour in 1995. Bohannan has a degree in agribusiness and previously worked in the chicken industry.
“The odds of making it are pretty slim. You do need that degree to get started and... to fall back on because you may not be able to do that for the rest of your life,” Bohannan said.
The two anglers also shared real-life examples of how subjects such as math and science are used in their profession.
Bohannan told the students that during his first year on tour, he had to go 85 miles up the Alabama River to find fish at a tournament in the Mobile Delta.
By calculating the amount of gas on hand and the average mileage he could expect from his tank, Bohannan realized that he wouldn’t have a drop to spare.
“I’ve never been that nervous in my whole life,” Bohannan said. “My gas gage hit ‘E’ about 10 miles before I made it back, but I eased back on my throttle and coasted in. I actually ended up finishing second in the event.”
Scheide took a different approach by discussing how important math and marketing are to the sport.
He pointed out that anglers rely on sponsors, each of which expect a return on their visit.
“Maybe it was a t-shirt company that sponsored the event and you ended up selling 500 t-shirts for them. You can put that in a packet, show them that you made them more money than they invested and when you come back next year, it’s easy to renew,” Scheide said. “If you don’t know how to convey that back to your sponsors using simple math, sometimes when you go back, they’ll say, ‘I don’t really know if that was worth it or not.’”
Bohannan also noted that the technology on his boat, which was parked in the front of the high school during the visit, was used to find the ruins of the Titanic.
Bohannan uses a fishfinder sold by Humminbird, which is based in Eufaula, Ala. The company hired a NASA engineer to help them develop their product.
“The thing they used to find the Titanic was about the size of your truck. Now we have something on the bottom of our boat that’s about the size of your hand,” Bohannan said.
Scheide added that a professional angler never underestimates the advantage he can gain through technology. He told the students that he missed a first place finish two years ago by 10 ounces, which meant $450,000 less in prize money for him.
“That one or two extra bites that our technology and our understanding of it can get us a day may mean thousands of even hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Scheide said.
The visit by Bohannan and Scheide was part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative.
They are among the hundreds of anglers who are in town this week for a tournament at Lewis Smith Lake.
Bohannan has been on the tour for six years and has more than $500,000 in career earnings.
Scheide joined the tour nine years ago and has nearly $800,000 in career earnings.
FLW also invited CHS seniors and members of the fishing team to participate in an essay contest about the importance of science, technology, engineering and math to the sport of fishing.
Winners Cobie Farr and Riley Williams received an autographed FLW team fishing jersey as well as a half day of fishing with an FLW pro on Lewis Smith Lake on Sunday along with a parent or guardian.