When Matt Pangrac leaves home, whether for a week or for a month, he needs to make sure that two key possessions accompany him – the “24 page manifesto” that controls his schedule and his AFTCO Hydronaut rainsuit. The first seeks to prevent any unnecessary rainy days, and the second protects him when a few of them invariably arrive.
While other pro anglers and aspiring pros have wiggle room in their schedules, no moment is unaccounted for in the 37 year-old’s life. He may be the busiest man in bass fishing. That starts with the nine Bassmaster Open tournaments on the 2022 schedule, plus other tournaments when he can slide them in. The driving force, though, is his new role as the senior host of the ultra-popular Bass Talk Live podcast. Bass Zone founder Mark Jeffreys has recently retired from the gig, which puts Pangrac at the top of that food chain.
Fortunately, being busy doesn’t faze Pangrac because fishing industry multitasking is all he’s ever known
Since 2008, he’s tackled an ambitious slate: co-host of BTL, host of FLW Live, covered the Elite Series, and worked with various tackle companies. It’s not just media gigs, though. He’s fished at every level up to and including the Bassmaster Opens and the Toyota Series. He’s also on the board of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. “I never get tired of it because there’s always something new in the industry,” he said. “It’s never the same thing twice. I don’t know any different, but I do know that’s how it stays fresh.”
Had he tried to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series straight out of college, he might not have had the perspective or the connections that he holds today, and he thinks that gives him an advantage, as does being busy.
“I’ve spent my whole life around people who are living their dreams,” he said. “That makes it attainable. And what I’ve noticed is that for the people who are the greatest successes in the sport, fishing is part of their business, it’s not their entire business. Look at Ike or Gerald Swindle. They have it dialed in. I’m certainly not comparing myself to them, but I’m looking to them as a template for how to become an established pro. Fishing is so volatile from year to year that in order to have longevity you have to have more than one revenue stream.”
Pangrac is headed to the first Southern Open of the season on the Kissimmee Chain. After that he’ll put in serious highway time, crisscrossing the country to fulfill his many obligations, most notably Bass Talk Live. “Everything I have is a result of BTL,” he said. “It’s important to keep the live shows going.” Accordingly, as others sat around the fire with family, the young pro spent all of Christmas and New Year’s getting ready for the first BTL of the New Year, laying the groundwork for subsequent shows. “That way, when I get to Florida, I can spend all of my time focused on how to catch more than 8 pounds a day,” he deadpanned.
His cup already ran over, but into this mix Pangrac has added new obligations – which he sees not as burdens but as opportunities. He’s planning a Bass Fishing Hall of Fame podcast and on January 13th he’ll close on a house 90 minutes from where he currently lives. But wait, there’s more. Wherever there’s a spare bit of daylight in his schedule he’ll try to guide in Oklahoma, teaching others how to efficiently enjoy the sport that is his life’s blood.
“I’ve had a lot of requests over the years,” he said. “Working camps for kids, like the one Kurt Dove runs in Texas, I’ve learned how fishing is a method for connecting really quickly with someone you don’t know. But my guide service will be a little different. I’ll focus heavily on finesse fishing, because as far as I know no one is doing that. People want to go to Falcon and catch big fish. But I also know that the average guy is tired of coming in with two or three fish in his local tournaments. He wants to catch 20 or 30. I feel like there’s a niche there.”
He’s even simplified some of the lessons to simple acronyms. Mr. BTL introduced the world to BMR2 – “Bridges, Marinas, Riprap and Ramps.”
That’s where the 24 page “manifesto” comes in. Pangrac has laid out his year in a way that no desk calendar can contain, with notes on every day – where he needs to be, what he needs to be doing, and how he’s going to get it done. That’s the only way he can keep it all in line and make sure that every box gets checked. Nevertheless, he’s realized that no matter how big your dreams, you need to chip away at them one small bite at a time.
“Every day I’m doing one thing to prepare for Florida,” he said, more than a month before he’ll hit the road. “It may be watching a YouTube video, or looking at Google Earth, or figuring out where I’m staying and whether I’ll have Wi-Fi. But every day, I make sure that the one thing gets done.”
Every day a new “to-do” list crops up, and every day Pangrac checks off its contents, one at a time, rain or shine.