By Dave Landahl - November 19, 2018
Brent Ehrler is pro bass fishing’s silent assassin: The quiet guy who cashes big checks without a lot of flashes, but with an awful lot of consistency.
But what is it about the laid-back Major League Fishing pro that makes him tick in such an under-the-radar fashion?
For one thing, Ehrler isn’t a one-trick pony who grew up only wanting to chase bass for a living. Also, Ehrler takes his relationships seriously in the world of pro fishing. Sponsors are not merely folks who give him the financial means to pursue the sport, but are cherished relationships often resulting in years of friendship.
From free skiing to the front deck
So, what did Ehrler want to be when he was growing up? He certainly fished, but this Southern California kid envisioned being dropped out of helicopters onto snowy mountainsides somewhere in the middle of nowhere to earn his living.
“Before I ever thought of fishing in tournaments, I wanted to be a professional snow skier,” said Ehrler. “Seriously, I took a year off of high school and worked at a ski resort. I wanted to be a pro at free skiing or extreme skiing. You’re taken up in a helicopter, dropped on the mountain, and then you ski down. You’re judged on a variety of factors. It’s really cool, like what you see in some of those James Bond movies.”
Ehrler’s professional journey eventually moved on to the world of pro fishing, where he sits among the best anglers in the world as an established pro.
“It’s amazing how things happen in life,” said Ehrler. “Now I fish for a living and have so many opportunities ahead of me. I still feel like a fanboy sometimes, seeing all of these top pros around me. It’s amazing to me that Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese, and other pros are my friends that I can call for advice about things.”
Navigating the ups and downs of tournament fishing
Even though Ehrler has placed himself in position to be friends with some of the top pros and earn a living catching bass, there are certainly ups and downs to navigate along the way.
“It’s funny, it’s really easy to enjoy yourself and have fun when you’re winning a lot,” said Ehrler. “How I do in a tournament can impact my mood. When I haven’t been performing well, and then I do bad in a tournament, sometimes I feel like selling all of my gear. It can get tough at times. I never really fish for bass for fun anymore.”
Building a long-term sponsor family
Many years have gone by since Ehrler stepped into the professional bass biz. A trail of big cash wins and more miles under his belt traveling across the USA than most will experience in a lifetime has taught him a thing or two about the fishing industry, and how to work well with others.
“For me, I like some of the business sides of fishing for a living,” said Ehrler. “I am a loyal guy, and I haven’t changed many sponsors in over 15 years of fishing professionally. A lot of my sponsorships have come out of friendships I’ve established. That’s the part I like. Those sponsors treat you like family. Even when you’re having an off year, they stick with you like family. There’s no textbook way to approach the fishing business for sure, but what I see happening with the MLF Bass Pro Tour now and into the future is where I want to be.”