Anglers who compete in the major leagues of professional bass fishing endure months on the road far from home and family.
Exhausting and sometimes lonely, the lifestyle nevertheless appeals to those who love independence and the great outdoors. Dan Mansky is one of them.
In his sophomore season on the FLW Tour, Mansky is ranked 50th in that trail's point standings. After the first two events in Florida, he stands a good chance of earning a qualifying berth in the FLW Tour Championship.
A half-million bucks goes to the angler who wins the championship. That's a nice pot of gold. The long FLW Tour season includes stops at Lakes Okeechobee and Toho in Florida, the Ouachita River in Louisiana, Beaver Lake in Arkansas, Wheeler Lake in Alabama and the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.
But to even stand a chance at the big bucks, anglers must commit to six months away from home and emerge in the top 25 percent of the 200 anglers on tour. Mansky will log 50,000 miles on his Chevy truck as he tows his Champion-Mercury rig to each of the FLW venues for practice and tournament competition.
He'll fish in cold and heat, rain or shine. He'll be up before dawn and fall into bed as soon after dinner as his daily tackle maintenance permits. He'll eat when it's convenient, not necessarily when he's hungry.
Pro anglers earn points based on their finishes in each event. They also earn money. Mansky's banked $10,500 after the first two FLW tournaments.
Professional anglers are among the world's perpetually optimistic people. Competing against 199 other pros, Mansky knows the odds are against him. But he and the others look to the next day on the water as the opportunity to catch the big kahunas and cash a big check.
To catch a glimpse of the FLW Tour, tune your TV to Fox Sports' coverage at 11 a.m. Sundays. Here's hoping Mansky is among the leaders someday soon.
If you see him on the tube, remember he started fishing right here around Youngstown at Mosquito, Berlin, Milton and West Branch. Lessons learned on our tough local lakes go a long way in helping a pro earn a living out on the Tour.