It has been a rough 2 weeks, starting out at the Winyah Bay tournament. Although I had high hopes for a much better finish, that just wasn't God's plan for me. I don't know that any one understands what being an elite angler on a budget really means. That angler that can go into the season with out the worry of money and where it is going to come from has a huge advantage over those of us that don't. Whether that money comes from a sponsor or from themselves, not worrying about it takes a huge stress off your shoulders. You are able to make the decision to make 109 mile run one way without worrying will I have enough money to fuel my truck to get to the next tournament if I spend it now to fuel the boat. I chose to put my practice time in closer to the ramp to save every dime I could. Hind sight being 20/20 I obviously wish I could have gotten that off my mind and at least put some practice time in on the Cooper. Cashing a much needed check would have made all the difference in the world!
For those of you that know me, you know I analyze everything. Being alone, on the road or in the boat, it leaves a guy with a lot of time to think. I have worked hard at everything I have ever done. I had my first job at age 13 and have not stopped working since. Walking away from my business, my livelihood, my family and friends to pursue this was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Although, I felt my wife and I had a solid plan moving forward, I still couldn't help but feel guilty for leaving her with the pressure of sustaining our household while I was away. Her support in this has meant the world to me. Which also helped lead me to the decision to really start looking at this elite season as a business. If your business was costing you thousands and bringing zero return, what would you do? Would you try to get a loan and go further in debt? Or would you cut your losses and move on? That has been my mindset since the tournament. I have said since I started this that I would fish until they told my I couldn't. Well the time has come. Their are nine elite tournaments, with a fee of $45000.00. That being due in November 2015. Or you can break that $45000.00 up over 6 payments, but then your cost goes to $48,375.00. The first two payments we made out of our pocket. $16375.00. I received $4400.00 in sponsor money and $1200.00 from a fundraiser my wife did. (I am so grateful to the companies that believed in me to represent them!! The Bait Sack, US Utility, and Monroe Superstore, it is a pleasure working with you and representing your business!!) We added my travel receipts up when I got home from Winyah Bay. I have spent $8738.92 while on the road. That is fuel, tackle, food, boat and truck repair issues & fishing licenses. Can you imagine how much more it would have been if I had not been sleeping in my truck? $25113.92 with another $8000.00 payment needing to be made by April 12th and then another by May 3rd and then still 2 more after that! I had a decision to make. Do I take every dime out of our bank account to make an $8000.00 payment to continue to on with the series, but then have no funds what so ever to travel on? Leave my wife to struggle living paycheck to paycheck supporting our household? What if I can't cash a check in the next 2 events? What if I don't have enough gas to even get to the next 2 events? These are the questions running over and over in my head. Knowing full well if money were not an issue in my decision making, I could compete with the other anglers. I know my abilities and my drive, that is what got me here in the first place. I spoke to the tournament director, these tournaments are not paid for one by one. It is a fee for the whole series. So even though you can divide out the cost by 9 and the $16375.00 that we have already paid in more than covers 3 tournaments, I am not allowed to continue without making that April payment. I decided that if a sponsor or sponsors did not come through by Friday 4/16 that I had to make a business decision to let this go. I could not let this business drain me of every dime my family has left. I don't want to you all to think I am not appreciative of every sponsor I have. Although some were not able to be monetary sponsors, many gave some much needed products that would have cost me a ton of money out of my pocket. So many helped keep my budget as low as possible!! Bendz Rods supplied me with all brand new rods for the season. Power Pole, BlueWater LED, Fulton Wench, Elite Rod Sleeves, Reel Grips, Schaeffer Oil Products, Bass Pro, Rayjus, Alien Apparel, Zman and Plexus all hooked me up! Had those sponsors not been there to help me out I am sure expenses would have been at least 10K or more higher!
I don't say this for you to feel sorry for me. My friends and family have been so supportive through this and for that I am truly grateful!! Honestly as I look back now, I realize I accomplished the goals I set for myself 2 years ago. I qualified as an Elite Angler, top 109 anglers in the world. I fished two Elite events, I fished against some of my heroes! This year has definitely been a dream come true! But now it is time to put my family and their needs first. I am not done tournament fishing by any means!! I have not given up, but I think the timing just wasn't right. My wife and I will move forward with a new set of goals and a new time line. Trust me this is not the last you have seen of Matt Vermilyea. I will be back and with what I have learned from this experience it can only help me move forward!!