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February 18, 2014 | 01:19 PM
At age 13, Tim Weiss isn’t just reeling in fish, he’s getting spokesman deals and sponsors.

The town of Linn boy is the youngest member of Johnson Outdoors Watercraft’s Adventure On The Water Team, the company’s all-ages group of personalities whose outdoors exploits are showcased online. He also has sponsors, such as St. Croix Rods, Double Catch Lures and Smokey’s On The Bay.

The deal he worked out with Johnson landed him a free kayak.

“He wrote that he would love to be a part of our Adventure family, and that he loved fishing from a kayak, but didn’t own one,” said Luke LaBree, Johnson marketing communications manager, in an email.

After some communication between LaBree and Weiss, Johnson delivered a Tetra 10 Angler kayak to the boy’s residence.

“All of the sudden, one day, here’s a truck coming down our road with a kayak and a life jacket for Tim,” said Jim Weiss, Tim’s father, in a Friday phone interview.

“I get great enjoyment out of using that,” Tim said on the phone Feb. 12.

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“I think he probably got it in the water the day it arrived,” said LaBree. “He was so eager to get fishing. Since then, Tim has been a great brand advocate — probably a little too much at times, as I started getting emails from middle schoolers in his area, asking for kayaks.”

Part salesperson, part fisherman, full-time Reek School student, Tim didn’t sound too bogged down juggling school and business. He said he takes people fishing or kayaking, and shows them products from the companies he represents so they can see them in action. He also submits photos and videos to Johnson, which are posted on the Adventure On The Water website.

When asked if it is work or fun, Tim said, “I see this as both. I enjoy this work.”

For Tim, that enjoyment began when two people took him fishing at an early age. One of them was Jim, who also is the town of Linn chairman. The other was Don Woelky.

“I just really like the excitement of hooking into a bigger fish,” Tim said. “It puts you up for a challenge.”

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From there, Tim grew more interested in products and the business side of the sport.

This may not surprise anyone who knows Jim, a former banker who owns and operates Champion Pizza, Hebron, Ill.

Did Jim suggest that Tim seek sponsors? Actually, that was Tim’s idea.

Tim began to think outside the tackle box, so to speak, when he saw kids posting photos on Instagram of the 40-inch Northern Pike they caught. Through other social media networks, he read that people were joining professional fishing teams and getting sponsors, so he thought he could try to do the same.

Jim insisted that, aside from reading over Tim’s contract with Johnson, he did nothing to help his son land any of his deals. Since Tim began his efforts in early 2013, Jim said he just let Tim “be the driver and take it at whatever pace was appropriate. But it’s moving at a fast clip now, faster than I would have expected.”

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A help and a hindrance

But it hasn’t been easy. Tim said, of the 100 to 150 outdoors companies he contacted, “I’ll bet you only 30 have replied.”

“I know a bunch of kids, and I’ve fished with some kids who have sponsors, but they’re not in this area,” said Tim, adding most of them are from areas such as Tennessee and Florida.

“Half of the kids with sponsors, they’re begging for sponsors. … What I’m starting to do more is, compared to the other people, I’ll meet pro staffers from other teams and try to get more involved in their companies.”

When asked if Tim feels that his age helps or hinders his chances landing spokesman deal or sponsorships, Tim replied, “Both.”

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Some companies are receptive, he said, but others “just want the professional. Which, I get that.”

Then there are the companies that don’t take Tim seriously, and “can be really mean about it.”

Jim said that’s when being 13 may not be always seen as favorable.

“Thirteen-year-olds usually have a short time span of concentration on things, but Tim continues to embrace this on a daily basis.”

But Jim said being persistent is Tim’s greatest strength, and “people are starting to believe in him.”

“Whether he continues to be successful in this area or not, the skills he’s learning will be beneficial in the future.”

What does Tim think?

He said he’s good at math, and would be interested in pursuing a business career, but it would be great if fishing was a part of it somehow.

But before adulthood, he has other goals, like wanting to catch a fish bigger than any 13-year-old has caught, or obtaining more sponsorships. “I’d like to get either Strike King or Rapala … or, like, Skeeter Boats or something, but you have to be 18.”

Meanwhile, both father and son have said they have a closer relationship.

“The nice thing is, as a parent, you want to teach and guide and support your children … but I’m learning as much from him about the fishing industry as he’s learning from me about being a good, responsible and respectable person,” said Jim.


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