Cooper Gallant’s Passion is Fueling the Epic Fishing Road Trip that is His Life
Cooper Gallant’s life is like the ultimate fishing road trip. At some point each spring, he’ll depart his hometown of Bowmanville, Ontario, and spend just about every week through fall traveling throughout Canada and the United States, fishing and documenting his adventures in video.
Gallant competes on the Bassmaster Open trail as well as other regional and AAA tournament circuits in both countries. Between events, he works with his brother, Colin, to produce video content for promotional partners and his Cooper Gallant Fishing YouTube channel.
Along the way, Cooper is rarely home and often doesn’t sleep in an actual bed. He estimates he spends about 80% of his nights tucked in under the roof of his pickup truck, occasionally cold and wet, sometimes physically exhausted, but always emotionally fixed on his pursuit of fish and the ultimate goals that he has for his career.
If it sounds like a dream gig, it kind of is. This is what Cooper has wanted since he won his first bass tournament in high school. He decided then and there that he’d find a way to make his living in the fishing industry. Now, about to turn 24, Cooper is a professional angler in the truest sense. He does make his living on the water.
Yet, he’s dreaming bigger. He’s still grinding, trying to really “make it” at the highest level of competitive angling.
“I’ve two main goals,” Cooper said. “One would be to have my own TV show. I love being behind the camera and showcasing the passion I have for it, especially for the younger generation. My other goal is to qualify through the Bassmaster Opens for the (Bassmaster) Elite Series.”
He came close to making the Elite Series in 2021. Cooper finished fifth in the Bassmaster Open Northern Division standings, just two spots away from earning an Elite Series invite for 2022. Two spots that he likely would have covered if not for a poor 71st-place showing at the first event of the season.
It was a heartbreaking start, but Cooper did what he’s supposed to do in that situation. He channeled the frustration into motivation and came back stronger and with better focus. His next tournament, he finished 16th. Had he not failed to bring in a limit one day, he might’ve made the top 10 and earned a spot in the final day’s action – along with the extra notoriety, dollars and valuable season-long points that comes with making the cut.
That second close call only pushed him more, and in the division’s finale, Cooper finished fourth. Every time he could’ve kept sliding, Cooper climbed.
“This whole season, not doing how I’d like to do pushed me even more to just learn from it,” he said. “I know exactly what I did wrong in those events.”
Learning from the hard lessons is part of any pro angler’s development. It’s how anyone builds skill. And, mile after mile, night after night, fish after fish, video after video, Cooper is building all the essential skills of a modern professional angler.
His field of work requires incredible expertise at catching fish, and also a sense for marketing, business and media. That’s where his passion for video comes in.
Cooper and brother Colin got started shooting snowboarding videos as kids before they combined their interest in video with a mutual love for fishing. Today, Colin shoots many of Cooper’s fishing videos, and Cooper handles the editing, turning raw footage into short films that allow other angling devotees to experience a slice of his unique lifestyle. (To be fair, the whole Gallant family is fish crazy. Cooper’s dad, Carey, and his other brother, Tanner, also appear in some of the videos).
His latest YouTube series is called, what else, “The Road Trip.” In its two seasons thus far, “The Road Trip” has documented Cooper, his brothers and a rotating group of friends on a series of epic fishing adventures in pursuit of everything from mammoth lake trout to giant Fraser River sturgeon in British Columbia.
“We started off with a little digital camera in the snowboard days and upgraded to a camcorder. Now we’re running four or five different cameras and a drone,” Cooper said. “As far as editing goes, I just taught myself. The internet is so crazy nowadays; you can go on and learn what you want. It took a lot of messy videos to get the hang of things. I still have lots to learn on the video side of things, but I enjoy doing it.
“Video content is just so big,” he added. “A video will tell a story way better than a photo most of the time. I think it’s very important to show people through video.”
Documenting aspects of his pursuit of pro fishing is a great way to show off what it really takes to live this life. It’s difficult yet rewarding, demanding yet exciting.
In many ways, the more humdrum aspects are just as important as making the perfect cast. On the water, there are endless variables that can impact the outcome – weather, other anglers, the unpredictable moods of fish. That’s why off the water, Cooper makes sure that all the variables he can control are under control – like boat and engine maintenance.
“I’ve learned the hard way,” Cooper said about the routine jobs. “I’ve done this and done that just because of my lack of maintenance on my engine. That is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned growing up and owning my own boat. Maintenance goes a long way. A very long way.”
Cooper isn’t making that same mistake now. At the start of the 2020 season, he upgraded to a new Mercury® Pro XS® outboard, which he still owns, and he’s diligent about maintaining it with premium Quicksilver® parts, accessories and lubricants. By upgrading and taking sound care of all his equipment – boat, motor, truck and tackle – he can avoid minor issues that might cost him practice time or impact his tournament.
Reliable equipment is a big thing, and Cooper now has that under control. He’s also embracing all the little things, all the lessons learned, all the right decisions, the sacrifices, the miles and the moves – right and wrong.
He’s ahead of the game in that sense. For many great achievers, recognizing the value of their early struggles often occurs in retrospect. They’ll look back longingly at the days when life was simpler and the only thought in their mind was how bad they wanted it. In hindsight, they’ll recognize how lucky they were to face real challenges, like sleeping in the truck for days on end, and to have the drive to overcome them.
Young men exhaustively focused on reaching their summit often overlook the value of the climb. Not Cooper. He sees what it’s worth.
“Some people ask me, do you ever get sick of it – the traveling? And I don’t at all,” he said.
“I love doing it. I love traveling. I love meeting new people, and I love fishing tournaments and competing. And I love the journey. I obviously haven’t made it to the Elites, but that’s my goal, and I’m really enjoying the journey.”