I have the answer.
I have noted with interest many discussions on various forums that offer opinions on the definition of a “professional angler”. These opinions have ranged from those that believe a professional angler is one who fishes exclusively for a living to those that occasionally participate in a local tournament and win a hundred dollar prize (pro by default).
I think there is much more to the term “professional” than I have read in these forum discussions. I believe that a person who can legitimately carry the title of professional angler is one who is very skilled in the sport, adheres to a rigid and immutable set of personal, ethical, moral, and performance standards, and consistently competes on a strong competitive level.
1. a: characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
b: exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike behavior in the workplace
2. a: participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs
b: having a particular profession as a permanent career
The definitions above came directly from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It appears that there are a number of ways to define the word “professional”. More importantly, and relating to the subject at hand, there are a number of aspects that can define a “professional angler”.
Definition 1a and 1b say that a professional is characterized by conforming to the standards of the profession and by exhibiting courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike behavior in the workplace.
So, it appears that the first aspect of defining a professional angler is to define the behavior of the individual.
Definition 2a and 2b give us two ways a person can be defined as a professional. One can participate for gain or livelihood in an endeavor usually engaged in by amateurs. This implies a separation of amateur and professional status with the professional level being delineated by consistently participating for gain or livelihood. Webster also offers the definition that one can embark in a given profession as a permanent career.
A picture begins to emerge of a professional angler.
A professional angler is an individual who consistently competes on an expert level of competition for gain or livelihood and strictly follows the rules of engagement. This includes rules of action as well as rules of ethical and honorable behavior. A truly professional angler is above reproach as he/she goes about the business of competing. The rules of engagement are sacred and are followed without question or quarter. To even consider the idea of cheating or gaining an unfair advantage is repugnant to a professional.
The professional angler may be participating for financial gain, notoriety, or perhaps a permanent career and livelihood; neither one excludes the other. In other words, the definition of a professional angler does include those that fish exclusively for a living but it does not exclude those that obtain intermittent financial gain by consistently competing at the same level and exhibiting the other characteristics of a professional in the field.
Further defining the situation is the professional field of competition. Professional baseball, hockey, football, and basketball have leagues and competition schedules that allow competition exclusive to the professionals of the respective sport.
Golf and fishing have tours with scheduled competition venues for the professionals only. This is where the individual professional competitors vie with one another for monetary prizes and to measure their standing among their peers. If an event contains contestants that do not meet the defining criteria of a professional angler than the field is “mixed” or “open” and it is not a truly professional event.
Therefore, professional anglers consistently compete in expert level events at a professional level for monetary gain, notoriety, and to gauge peer standing.
This would mean any event that consistently has expert level competition at multiple venues. Tours/events/trails may include full and/or part-time participation but all would be considered as competing at a professional level.
Now, back to the original question. - Does the “Professional” Redfish Angler Exist?
The answer is, yes, it does.