Being in front of a camera can be extremely intimidating. For some of us it can be a disconcerting experience, but one that in today’s world of almost instant social media posts and media coverage you need to become proficient at as a tournament angler. Whether you are asked by a photographer to snap a few stills of your catch, or for a brief interview on camera, there a few things you need to remember in order to get the most out of the opportunity.

Treating each of these requests as an opportunity and not an obligation is the first piece of advice that anglers on every level need to adopt. Whether you’ve had a great day on the water or one you would rather forget, if you turn down the opportunity for any media exposure you are missing out. When you get these opportunities it is important that you are prepared to take advantage of them.

We caught up with legendary Bassmaster photographer James Overstreet to get his take on how to make the most of your stage time, whether you are fishing at the highest level or aspiring to get there. Overstreet has seen countless anglers cross the B.A.S.S. stages over the years and offers some sage advice on what you should do to stand out from the crowds. We’ve listed some of his standouts below.

  • Project a good, authentic image for your sponsors (current or potential), your family, and the organization your are competing with.
  • Show respect and acknowledge the weigh-in crowd no matter how large or small
  • If you are asked to hold up fish always do so. Never turn down an opportunity to get a photo taken that might be posted online or in a publication
  • When you are holding your fish up for photographs, make sure you are holding them far enough apart and high enough to give good exposure to the front of your jersey, as well as your face.
  • Engage with the emcee if you get the opportunity while onstage, but don’t get too long-winded. “Nobody wants to hear you read War and Peace up there on stage, man.” – James Overstreet
  • When you are holding your fish, make sure you take your time and turn so you hit all three angles (left, center, right) stage to make sure all the photographers have an opportunity to get a good image. However, make it a priority to give center stage the most attention because that is where the main photographers and media will be seated.

Covering professional fishing  tournaments for well over a decade has also given me a unique opportunity to form some opinions on do’s and don’ts as it pertains to stage time.

  • Do smile, or at least attempt to look pleasant while holding up your fish or posing with a check or trophy.
  • Don’t put your sunglasses on your hat covering up a sponsor logo. Either wear them, or put them in your pocket until you get off stage.
  • Do thank your sponsors, but don’t literally look down and read them all off of your jersey.
  • Don’t say you broke off fish if you have a line sponsor. It happens to all of us no matter what line you use, but makes no sense to mention on stage as the reason why you didn’t have a mega bag. Trust me, the line companies are paying attention!
  • Do plug your social media accounts if you get the opportunity. Keep it short and sweet but organic followers are a big deal in today’s marketing climate.
  • Don’t speak poorly of the host fishery if you’ve had a bad day on the water.

While all of these are simply opinions from industry professionals they are solid rules of thumb to keep in mind the next time you get a chance to be in front of a camera at a tournament. Hopefully they help you to better take advantage of your opportunities in front of the camera!

– Dave Rush