Innovation Starts Here: Fishing hooks great minds

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On the water with a fishing rod chasing the next big catch is one of the perks of being a professional sports fisher.

Accomplished sports fisher and the founder of National Pro Staff (NPS), Dan Miguel, says he first went fishing with his parents at the age of two.

“I fell in love with it, you couldn’t keep me off the dock,” says Miguel,“That’s all I wanted to do, was just fish”

He fell in love with the sport and by the age of 16, he says at that point he already got a fishing sponsorship.

Miguel is a graduate from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). He is from Ajax where he met Brandon Wetzel who co-founded and co-owns NPS.

“It’s about getting to see what the sport’s about and have success­ – [getting] experience the same as you do every day when you go out on the water,” Dan Miguel says.

NPS is a social network for anglers everywhere to share there catches, techniques, and fishing spots. The website’s main purpose is to help talented anglers’ sponsorships with fishing brands.

It is an innovation in the fishing industry and the only website online actively connecting brands with fishers. Miguel knows how difficult it can be to get sponsored as a sports fisher. When he first got into the industry he really had to work on his connections to get a sponsorship.

He says, “it was quite challenging to get noticed there’s really no scouts on the water looking for the next great fishermen.”

But Miguel has made getting a sponsorship with a fishing brand much easier, NPS now has over 4000 sponsored anglers across 1000 brands on NPS.

The way NPS works is anglers fill out a fishing focus resumé that they send to the brand they want to be sponsored by. The resumé is then reviewed for a small fee and the sponsors get back to them.

Miguel says this is streamlining the process and makes it easier for fishers to find sponsorships.

“We are finding that the quality of applicants are really good and brands are sponsoring more anglers then they ever have. I think making it easier for both sides has really helped a lot of anglers attain sponsorships and build careers in the industry.”

The movie, The Social Network, struck a chord with Miguel as he saw what the power of creating an online community had the potential to snowball into.

“Our site is quickly approaching the 100 thousand user mark. People are very active on our site.” Miguel says. “We have a new mobile app coming soon. It’s really cool and simple.”

Miguel says the app is the same as the web version just on a mobile platform.

One in five fishers who pay the small fee and apply to get brands for sponsorships through NPS actually get sponsored.

For Miguel, NPS has always been about creating sponsorship opportunities for talented anglers to get noticed without having some type of firsthand connection in the industry.

According to Miguel, there is no other website that does what NPS does. Miguel says, “Were the only social platform that connects brands with anglers”

NPS allows fishers to build a profile of their accomplished catches and goals while also allowing sports fishing companies to look for anglers to help grow their brand.

Miguel and his fellow fishermen at NPS have won many fishing tournaments including the IGNITE competition in 2014 where he won $25,000.

In the past, major fishing brands used to be able to depend on traditional marketing paths like TV and print as their biggest advertising tools. Since the major boom of social media being a key component to the success of nearly any business today, Miguel says the industry is seeing an increasing number of big brands shifting more of their budge toward digital marketing.

“We’re seeing some big brands not keeping up and really struggling and some little brand growing quickly because they have been able to stand at the forefront of the digital and social [aspect],” -Miguel.

NPS took a similar marketing path allowing the business to grow even quicker in what is already a heavily popular fishing community in the Durham Region.

“For those people that don’t know – this is definitely a world class [fishing area]. We got year round fishing opportunities with multi-species. Southern Ontario is a really big fishing market.” Miguel says, “One out of four people fish in Canada, and Durham Region is huge, especially Oshawa.”

He says sports fishing is bigger then hockey and golf combined and with the fishing market expanding so rapidly in Durham Region, NPS should continue to grow.

Miguel’s NPS has already connected thousands of fishers from all across Canada in its two years of operation. The website is very popular among many fishers with over 900,000 social interactions and over 12 million post views.

According to Miguel, NPS’s success can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of him and his team.

“We just work our tails off, going out promoting. Building a platform and making sure it’s solid,” says Miguel.

In the fishing industry it is difficult for fishing brands like Rapala or Shimano to find professional fishermen to promote their products. In professional hockey or baseball there are scouts that attend lower-league games to see if there is any aspiring talent. Unfortunately, for fishing, it is hard for brands and sponsors to scout-out anglers at every tournament. So, NPS is innovating new ways to find talented fishermen in the industry.

NPS allows anglers to post what they caught, where they caught it, and how they caught it. This allows for fishing sponsors to find people through NPS that are good at fishing competitively and may be interested in a sponsorship.

NPS is also helping connect everyday people that fish as a hobby by allowing them to share what they catch and how they caught it. A lot of posts say what gear was used and explain what baits worked best for the conditions they were fishing in.

With over 4000 sponsored anglers on NPS, Miguel says the website can show everyday anglers the best techniques and baits.

“Nowhere will you find fishing information from the quality of anglers we have today,” says Miguel.

An NPS member, David Reid agrees with Miguel.

He says, “I have met some very knowledgeable, seasoned anglers  which I would have never had the chance to meet if NPS didn’t exist.”

Many posts also are videos recorded on a GoPro from inside the angler’s boat of a certain fishing spot or lake. Other video posts include reviews on baits that work well for catching lots of fish.

NPS has many members from all over North America as well as around the world. Most of the members of NPS are from the United States, followed by Canada and Australia.

Reid says, “As for my favourite part of NPS, I would have to say the opportunity of answering questions from young teenage anglers and new anglers just starting out.”

He likes how NPS is such an easy platform to help educate and share fishing knowledge.

Miguel represented NPS in many national and international sports fishing competitions, such as Bassmaster Team Championship of the United States, and many competitive sport fishing leagues in Canada.

Miguel’s NPS is also a partner with Fishing League Worldwide as well as Rapala. Rapala is an organization that sells lures, sunglasses, clothing, reels, rods, knives, tools and other accessories.

Their brand stretches far from just Canada. Their company is relevant in 140 of the 196 countries in the world. They are the most popular of fishing lure brands in the world. They produce 15 million fishing lures annually and have been in business since 1936.

NPS is currently making a difference in the fishing industry. It is the first website of its kind. Through NPS Miguel is helping connect thousands of anglers across the globe. A UOIT graduate has changed the fishing industry, giving fishers a better way to fish.

“I believe that NPS is going to be the global social network for fishing in the next five to ten years,” says Miguel.









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Sam is a second year journalism student at Durham College, who enjoys writing about social issues, business, sports, music, and the community. He enjoys creating broadcast news as well as video stories. In his spare time he enjoys listening to music, going to concerts, and watching the news. Sam hopes to work at for a radio network or newspaper after he graduates.