Besides providing attendees with career-building, educational, and networking opportunities in numerous sessions, the upcoming 2024 “Passion to Profession” NPAA Conference in Fort Myers, Florida, Jan. 5-7, 2024, will feature sportfishing industry notables sharing their insights on what it takes to succeed as an angling professional in the sportfishing industry on Saturday, Jan 6.
Building on the amazing success of last year’s seminars that featured speakers including Gerald Swindle, Bobby Lane, Jason and Jay Przekurat, and many others, this year’s conference will feature prominent tournament bass angler Justin Lucas, former fishing pro turned sportfishing industry executive Eric Naig, “The Fishing Professor” Sid Dobrin, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame inductee/veteran walleye tournament pro and digital content creator Keith Kavajecz, and digital marketing consultant and expert EJ Saunders.
“Every year NPAA attendees look forward to the chance to hear the top professionals share their industry and life experiences. Once again, we are honored to have some incredible personalities and industry experts on our conference schedule this year, all touching on the 2024 conference theme of ‘Passion to Profession’,” said Pat Neu, NPAA president.
9 a.m.-9:50 a.m.
Justin Lucas started his career with the FLW Tour between 2010-2013. In 2014, Lucas fished his rookie season on the Bassmaster Elite Series and went on to qualify for three consecutive Bassmaster Classics, win two Bassmaster Elite events and win Angler of the Year title in 2018. His dynamic presence, engaging personality, and fishing talent have positioned Lucas as a prominent figure in the sport with a rapidly growing and engaged fan base. In addition to his role as a professional angler, Lucas was also the host of the FLW College tournaments for several years. He was able to build a strong following through the younger generation of anglers and he still embraces his role as an inspirational personality and mentor to them today. When not fishing competitively, Justin loves to spend time with his wife, family, and go fun fishing with his buddies.
10:15 a.m.-11:05 a.m.
Longtime fishing industry icon Eric Naig began his career as a manufacturer-sponsored tournament angler, progressing into grassroots pro staff management for many of the tackle industry’s biggest names and then on to a successful stint as a marketing manager for a major industry company. Naig will be presenting on ways NPAA member anglers can make themselves more valuable to fishing tackle sponsors, including how to work with tackle company marketing and product development teams. Over the course of his career, Naig has learned many of the “do’s”, “don’ts,” “whys” and “why nots” sponsor-seeking anglers should keep in mind to further their careers and will share those in his seminar.
Professor and chair of the department of English, University of Florida, and is also one of this country’s foremost experts on artificial intellegance, Sid is the author of numerous books, co-owner of inventivefishing.com, and is a an extremely knowledgeable saltwater and freshwater angler. “The Fishing Professor,” Sid Dobrin, will introduce some fundamental explanations about how AI and GenAI work and how they might be deployed in various workplace settings in the fishing industry. The session will offer pragmatic advice about how you might use no-code AI and GenAI platforms to enhance your business.
1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
Keith Kevajecz is a top-ranking professional walleye fisherman whose career spans back to 1986, specializing in tournament fishing, saltwater fishing and walleye fishing promotions. Keith is a “Legendary Angler” inductee into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and a past co-host of the popular The Next Bite TV show. Keith has been featured in countless fishing magazines, videos, and TV programs, and has been a product consultant for decades. If you’re wondering how to turn your angling “passion” into a “profession,” there is no better expert on the subject.
3-3:50 p.m. & 4-4:50 p.m.
“Maximizing Customer Acquisition & Retention: Mastering the 5-Level Framework in the Angling Industry”
Led by digital marketing expert EJ Saunders of Blaze Digital, session attendees will learn techniques to deeply understand and connect with their core angling audience, including how to craft offers that resonate, ensuring more bites both in the water and business. Saunders will also address how to navigate and optimize each level of customer interaction and strategies to ensure customers transition smoothly from one interaction stage to the next, solidifying loyalty. Attendees will leave with worksheets that can be utilized to strategize and organize their next career moves.
Registration Still Open
The NPAA has secured a special room rate of $169/night (double occupancy) at the five-star-rated Gulf Coast Crowne Plaza in Fort Myers, Florida, also home to the entire conference. The room rate is available through Dec. 8 or until sold out.
Airfare rates have also dropped significantly in the past month and the hotel is only 5 minutes from the Southwest Florida Regional Airport. Book your airline tickets early to receive the lowest rates and don’t forget to try specialty airlines like Sun Country, Frontier, and Allegiant for airfares as low as $200 roundtrip from some hubs.