How To Make Money Fly Fishing – A Four-Part Series
We all want it – more time fishing, less time working. How about making a little more so you can feel good about getting out more. Of course, you could become a fishing professional – go for it – it’ll take time and the opportunities are highly contested. What we’re talking about here are things you can do today to earn a little more, even while you are fishing.
This article (Part 1) covers making money part-time while you fish or support fishing – “active income.” I’ll share my own experiences and examples. Next in Part 2 (forthcoming), I’ll show you a number of ways that I earn money using income generators the personal finance pros call “passive income.” That’s basically earning while you do other things (like more fishing!) and even while you sleep. If that sounds too good to be true, then you are missing out on a great way to leverage more time outdoors.
If that’s not enough, in Part 3 I’ll show you some side hustles you might not have thought about. All things you can do part time around your busy fishing schedule. Then finally enjoy the $$$ you earn and save – in Part 4 we’ll tackle the tough choice of whether to save it or spend it on that new rod or reel you’ve been eyeing! That’s the good problem, so we’ll cover “best value” gear to help stretch your dollars while fishing and catching more.
Guide On The Side
What it is: You know a fish location well, enjoy meeting and teaching people, and get a thrill helping others land awesome fish. Not to mention the photo ops! In addition to your regular job, you can book “guide on the side” trips on the weekends, evenings, or days off. Who knows, this could become full time.
Example: When I try a new river, sometimes I take a guided trip to get to know it faster. I first met a part time guide fishing the Yellow Breeches river in Central PA. Turns out he was the president of the local Trout Unlimited chapter, and also sold flies. We had a great evening, catching fish using tiny chironomids I wouldn’t have thought to try. Not only that, I learned a lot about a rehabilitated stream that I can go back to again and again.
How to do it: First, be honest. You love to fish, but do you also want to share your favorite spots with others and put their catch ahead of your own favorite sport? Your clients will be diverse – some easy going but some demanding if they aren’t catching fish – even if they aren’t following your advice. If all that works for you, then jump right in. This requires low to high investment depending on how far you get into it, and whether a boat is required.
What you’ll need: Business cards, simple website with online booking and payment feature, guiding permit (if required), extra gear, and a little time to get your reputation built up. Perhaps start with a friend who can also be a reference and give you feedback on your guide instruction style. Consider a GoPro or other waterproof videocam for action shots and videos you can post on your website. If you really run with this one, you may want to purchase a drift or jet boat for larger rivers. Consider an inexpensive “umbrella” insurance policy just in case for extra liability protection.
Start a Fishing Website or Blog
What it is: Sharing your enthusiasm, know-how, experiences, and photos / videos online. Then, “monetizing” your site to make a little income on the side from “affiliate” product sales or advertising. This fits very well with other ideas in this article, such as guiding and gear testing, because it helps build your reputation and reach.
Example: If you are reading this, you are looking at one! Feel free to contact me for any pointers on how to get started. I love it, and it’s fun to make money on the side with it too.
How to do it: This idea is getting more and more popular, so do some online research and figure out how you can make a unique contribution to the fly fishing world. Then, develop a plan for how you’ll build your content. There are lots of online resources to help you through this process. To be clear, the opportunity is growing but this is a multi-year commitment to build your readership. Fortunately, it’s one you can start on the side without leaving your current job, and at relatively low cost.
What you’ll need: An online hosting service such as Bluehost or GoDaddy. A website or blog publishing toolkit such as WordPress, Wix, etc. A strategy for “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO so people can find you online. Online tools are getting more user friendly, but you may also want to hire a technical expert to get you jump started. Consider freelancers on sites such as Upwork.com to be cost effective. Not only that, you’ll need to study how to set up “affiliate” marketing and advertising so you can earn money off your site.
Prep, Pack & Ship Fish
What it is: You live where people catch a lot of fish such as a salmon river or saltwater fishing port, or you know fishing guides or charter captains who’s clients need their catch filleted, packaged, frozen, and maybe shipped. You can do this for lower cost than most commercial places. While this one won’t get you outside fishing, it sure will keep you in touch with who is catching what where – so you can head back out yourself!
Example: Part of an awesome trip to Alaska with my daughter was catching silver salmon on the Little Susitna River. We wanted to bring our catch home to the lower 48, and found a couple who does this from their home (also during hunting season). We dropped our catch off one afternoon, picked it up the next morning on the way to the Anchorage airport, and have enjoyed our catch since. In our case we carried it, but many clients will want you to ship it.
How to do it: Get the word out, and build your reputation. Make it clear you win on speed and cost. Be ready to coordinate with clients by phone, receive or pick up their catch, process, pack, freeze, and return or ship the fish. This can be done from a home garage or business warehouse, and requires a moderate level of investment.
What you’ll need: Business cards, simple website with your contact information and payment feature, fish packing bags, vacuum packer, freezer, labels with your logo, cell phone, shipping fee schedule, and shipping account with FedEx or UPS.
Become A Gear Tester
What it is: Ok this is hard to accomplish, but so cool we had to include it. Essentially, you get paid to try out, critically review, give feedback, and help manufacturers improve their gear. Or, you can become an independent gear reviewer and combine this idea with building a website / blog above. Either way how great is that – get paid to be outdoors and fish!
Example: I haven’t done this myself, directly for manufacturers, so others could give you better advice there. I write online gear reviews though, and appreciate any feedback you have on our articles and posts.
How to do it: To be realistic, this one is more likely if you are already established in the fishing industry. You can be independent or an employee of a gear manufacturing company. Companies are careful they don’t give out too much free gear or pay someone in a way that creates a conflict of interest and compromises their reputation. For this reason, there very few full time paid gear testers and they are usually employees of the manufacturer. Your best option to get in on the action may be to build a reputation as an independent gear tester. With a review website, you earn income from sources other than the manufacturer. The initial investment cost is low, but buying gear to test can add up and the time requirement is significant.
What you’ll need: Most importantly, a critical yet objective and professional mindset, ability to communicate well verbally and writing, and an established reputation as an expert in your field. Alternatively, you can focus on helping beginners learn about gear and a sport by reviewing gear basics and “how to” instruction. Computer, website, cell phone, and the gear that is the focus of your review.
Thinking about another way to earn money while fishing, not quite sure? Tell us about it on our CONTACT page, we’ll interview experts in our network, and publish the results in a future post. In return for your idea, we’ll enter you in our monthly drawing for free gear!