August 5, 2019 by Mariah Stevens
"How did you start your fishing career?" The question all professional anglers seem to be asked at least once, if not hundreds of times in their careers. If you were to ask 10 different anglers this question, you should be prepared to get 10 different answers. Each angler has their unique path to success in the fishing industry, and that statement holds especially true for Hammer Rod pros Dakota Ebare and Joseph Webster.
Ebare just finished up his rookie season on the FLW Tour, while Webster just finished up his fourth. Both Hammer Rod pros had successful seasons and they both punched their ticket to the 2019 FLW Cup. Although these two anglers are preparing to make their appearances at the cup, their stories of how they got there are vastly different.
This year will be Webster's fourth time to walk across the stage and compete in the FLW Cup, and the odds seem to be in his favor after his successful season on the tour where he finished 3rd in overall points for the 2019 FLW Tour season.
When asked about the upcoming FLW Cup, Webster explained that Lake Hamilton sets up well for him. "It's going to be boiling hot and tough fishing," Webster said. "That's just the way I like it. I'm ready to see what happens."
Webster worked his way up to the FLW Tour gradually by fishing tournaments with his father and grandfather growing up, along with fishing as a co-angler in the Costa series for several years.
"I was a good fisherman growing up," Webster says. "I probably wanted success in the fishing world a lot more in my twenties, but I also wanted other things too. I got married to my wife, Deah, and we've raised our two daughters, Mariah and Olivia. I also started my own insulation business that I've been running for the past 12 years"
Webster kept fishing the BFLs and Federation hopeful for a championship win. Webster was able to secure a spot in the TBF National Championship four times, and his last appearance ended in victory as he secured the title of "National Champion" in 2016 at 41 years old.
Since his national championship win, Webster has been on the FLW Tour and made four consecutive trips to the FLW Cup. For Webster, his later start to success in the fishing industry was very beneficial. Webster is now able to compete with some of the best anglers in the world with confidence and also some peace of mind that his family and business are taken care of.
"There are more opportunities now than ever before to compete in bass fishing," Webster says. "There are plenty of success stories about anglers who made it at the top when they were young, but I just decided to focus on my family and financial stability before jumping head first in my fishing career."
If any angler knows about making it to the top at a young age, it's Hammer Rods pro Dakota Ebare. Ebare has been in a fishing boat since he was a little boy, and he always had the dream of fishing professionally, but he said he didn't think he had the avenue. Ebare continued to fish while growing up, but decided to focus on his academics when in college at LSU, where he was also involved in rodeo. However, after making a school transfer to TSU, Ebare's fishing career took a turn.
I transferred [from LSU] to a school in Texas to rodeo," Ebare said. "When I got out there I realized they had a collegiate fishing team there that was really good. I started to get to know some of the guys on the team, I started to compete, and although I was still rodeoing, I was also going to all the college fishing events. I started doing well and started having success, and fishing just took over. I realized and said to myself, `This is an opportunity and if I ever want a chance to fish professionally, I need to ride this out'."
After an accident that resulted in a broken hip and the inability to participate in rodeo for a long period of time, Ebare put everything into fishing. In his last semester at TSU, Ebare enrolled in online classes and moved to Sam Rayburn where he started fishing the BFLs, as well as the southwestern division of the Costa series for a year. Ebare was hungry for experience on the water, so he continued to fish the southwestern division for the Costa series as well as the central event and the full northern series.
After graduating college, Ebare decided to skip the traditional 9 to 5 route, because his hunger for success led him in other directions.
"Whenever I decided to move down here to east Texas [after graduation], I had two different degrees from two different schools," Ebare said. "I had an education and plenty of opportunities to go to work, but I decided I was going to wholeheartedly, 100% commit myself to try to be successful in the fishing industry."
Ebare ended his lease, got rid of his house, said goodbye to family and friends, and started his journey to success in the fishing world. Ebare expressed that it wasn't easy at first. There were plenty of times I was in my truck eating peanut butter and crackers as a meal, or going to McDonald's and getting a McChicken, small fries, and a large sweet tea for $3.27, Ebare explained. Ebare didn't know exactly how he would make it, but he was confident that he would.
Soon enough, Ebare was able to go from fishing with the mindset of "where is my next paycheck coming from?" to the mindset of "I'm going to have a paycheck, so I'm going to fish for fun." Since being able to fish with that mindset, Ebare has been able to be relaxed and confident on the water.
Ebare's dedication to fishing paid off, and he was able to land himself a spot on the 2019 FLW Tour. Ebare's rookie year was nothing short of successful where he finished 27th in the overall standings and qualified for his first FLW Cup at the age of 27.
"The cup is something I've worked hard to get to," Ebare said. "I'm guaranteed a paycheck and I'll be good financially, so I'm just gonna go fishing, have fun, and try to win"
Excited and grateful for his spot on the FLW Tour and qualifying for the cup, these are only two stepping stones for Ebare.
"People ask me all the time if I get burnt out on traveling and fishing, and the answer is no," Ebare said. "I'm hungry for success, and I can't wait to get to another event. If I have a week off, I go crazy, because I want to be competing."
Even after the cup, Ebare still has two more northern Costas, a southwestern Costa, the final central division Costa, and the Costa championship, so his fishing season will continue.
Both Ebare and Webster are great examples to show that hard work and dedication pays off. These two anglers may have taken two different routes to their careers as professional fishermen, but that just goes to show that there is always more than one formula to success.