by Terry Rogers
Kurt Mitchell, who was born and raised in Milford, participated in the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Cup in August, the only Delawarean to qualify for the prestigious event. Mitchell has been a professional bass fisherman for four seasons but this is the first time he has qualified for the FLW Cup.
“In order to qualify for the FLW Cup, I had to qualify for the FLW Tour and finish in the top 170,” Mitchell explained. “I then had to be in the Top 30 of that 170 in order to get a spot in the FLW cup. The competition is what keeps me going. It is a great feeling to reel in those fish and know that each one could potentially put you in the winner’s circle. The competition drives me crazy, but I love it.”
The winner of the FLW Cup earns $300,000, a pretty good paycheck for three days of fishing. Mitchell placed 26th out of the 52 who participated in this year’s event. According to statistics posted on the FLW website, Mitchell has career earnings of $173,182 and has three Top-Ten finishes with the organization. He participated in seven tournaments during 2019, earning 1,019 points and ending the season 24th in standings. Over the season, he reeled in 80 bass.
“We fish all day, weighing and measuring each bass we reel in,” Mitchell said of the FLW Cup. “We submit the top five fish at the end of the day and the cumulative weight of the five fish determines the winner at the end of the tournament.”
Mitchell’s father taught him to bass fish when he was nine, around the time his son won a fishing pole in a contest. When he was 12, a neighbor got him involved in competitive fishing which he did for fun until he was 14. That year, he qualified for the National Guard Junior World championship and began to take a fishing career seriously. He qualified for that tournament four times, placing as high as fourth out of 50 in his age class. It was then he realized he could probably make a career out of fishing.
Mitchell has steadily moved up in the competitive bass fishing world. He moved up from last year’s 98th place position and always starts the year with a goal to be in the top ten. Not only was he the only Delaware native to participate in the FLW Cup, he is the only Delawarean in the FLW Tour. He explained that learning to fish large bodies of water, unlike those he fishes in Delaware, was a learning curve, but learning is one of the appealing parts of competitive fishing.
“I plan to do this for the rest of my life, as long as I am physically and mentally able,” Mitchell said. “My advice to anyone who wants to get into competitive fishing is to fish as much as possible. Although the bass fishing club at Milford High School started after I graduated, I have worked with the kids and I took them to the competition in Arkansas last year.” During the winter, when he is not fishing, Mitchell works for his father’s painting business.
Mitchell is always looking for sponsorships for his fishing career. He says anyone who wants to sponsor him can find him on Facebook or Instagram. Although sponsors are critical to keep him in the competitive fishing world, he says it is the part of his career he struggles with the most.
“I appreciate every one of my sponsors,” Mitchell said. “We have many different levels of sponsorship available and it is a great way to get your business out there. For me, the fishing is the important part. My goal is to learn every time I go out on the water so that I can continue to improve in the industry.”
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