It took nearly 15 years, but Benton, Mo., resident Stuart Arthur finally has achieved his goal of becoming a professional angler.
Arthur's road to becoming a professional bass fisherman began while competing in small tournaments while growing up in Wisconsin.
"I fished in Little King tournaments and many pro-ams up there," Arthur said.
He began his road toward becoming a professional when he started entering tournaments in 1994.
He competed in several leagues, including the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, before working his way up to the Stren Series, which is where the sport's newcomers can gain experience and earn priority entrance into the biggest tournaments.
He's posted career earnings of $45,946 with one win.
Arthur and his wife decided that this season would be the perfect time for him to join the professional tour.
"The tour was going to several popular destinations that I was familiar with, like Kentucky Lake," Arthur said. "We figured I might be able to recoup my entry fees and do well."
Arthur performed well during his rookie campaign.
He ranked 86th in points with 730 and won $34,000 on the FLW Tour, a premier bass fishing circuit. He also finished fifth in the rookie of the year standings, just 123 points out of first place.
"A huge accomplishment, obviously, would be if I could [have] accomplished becoming rookie of the year," he said.
He said the key to being a successful bass fisherman is that you have to realize that you aren't competing against the other fishermen.
"The fish are the challenge," he said. "If you go in with the mentality that it's you vs. the fish and not you against the other fishermen, you will luck into a 3- to 5-pounder here and there."
Arthur, who owns Precision Granite and Marble in Cape Girardeau, must balance his time between fishing and the office.
"It's hard to, obviously, juggle them both," he said. "But the beauty of the tour is that I will only miss a week of work at a given time to attend tournaments."
Arthur last competed at a tournament last weekend on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y. He finished 139th with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 1 ounce. He caught two fish the first day and five the second.
Arthur signed a sponsorship deal with H2O Hydro Wraps, a sign company that specializes in wrapping boats and vehicles for advertisements, before this season, which means he'll continue to pursue his passion on tour next season.