From Bass Fishing Passion to Profession
From humble fishing roots to National Sales Manager
By Walker Smith
It’s a dream that many anglers have shared since childhood—work your way up the ladder and become an executive of a popular lure manufacturing company. Working in the industry you love, managing an all-star pro staff and knowing about new lures long before they hit the market—what could be better? During a recent fishing trip with Syd Rives, the National Sales Manager of Spro Corporation, I learned that his dream was no different.
Growing up in Macon, Ga., Rives was an avid outdoorsman from the very beginning. Most Saturdays were spent with his father in the woods of Middle Georgia hunting anything from turkeys to deer and everything in between. Although he shared his father’s passion for hunting, Rives always had something else lingering in the back of his mind—bass fishing.
While he and his father enjoyed spending time together on the water, Rives’ passion ran a bit deeper than most. Regardless of the weather conditions or the time of year, he would stop at nothing to chase bass on local fisheries. He didn’t know much about the sport at first, but his relentless pursuit of knowledge turned him into a successful angler at an early age.
“Just like hunting was my dad’s thing, fishing was mine,” Rives said. “I was pretty much self-taught from the beginning by reading every magazine and catalog I could possibly get my hands on.”
At age 17, Rives finally saved up enough money to buy his first fishing rig—a small aluminum boat with a 25-horsepower outboard. At a time when fancy bass boats were emerging, his modest outfit had everything he needed to further pursue his passion. Practically living on Lake Juliette, a 3,600-acre lake outside of his hometown, he fine tuned his craft and quickly discovered his calling.
“I always wanted to tournament fish, but I never had enough money to do it,” Rives said. “Regardless, I still spent every day on the water, learning more with each day. I was flat-out obsessed with it.”
After graduating from the University of Georgia, he did what any bass fishing addict would do—he got a job selling fishing tackle at the local Bass Pro Shops. Throughout his tenure, he met many influential names in the local fishing industry, and before he knew it, he landed an entry-level job at Spro Corporation. Little did he know it would be the first step in his dream career.
Through many promotions within the company, Rives worked his way up to become the National Sales Manager. After working many years in marketing, inventory and new product development, including several trips to China and Japan, he has gained an intricate knowledge of not only the company’s product line, but most importantly, the needs of avid anglers.
“I believe that my passion for the sport of fishing and my experience on the water is hugely helpful in developing the most quality baits possible,” Rives said. “I’m just like every other angler out there—I want baits in my tackle box that will catch fish.”
Whether he’s managing and listening to his pro staff’s fishing needs or helping develop unique baits that catch big bass, Rives’ love for fishing helps him continuously exceed his business goals.
“There’s no substitute for time on the water,” Rives said. “If you’re a young person out there wanting to get in the industry, don’t give up. Keep fishing and associating with the right folks, and you’ll be surprised how fast you can reach your dreams.”