Fish Like a Girl

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There was a time when I needed help casting, over two and a half years ago. I was horrible at everything fishing. I married into fishing. My husband loves fishing. He is fishing obsessed. I didn’t understand until I became fishing obsessed as well. I didn’t grow up with a sportsman dad. My dad is awesome, he lovingly cultivated my learning of the outdoors and nature, but a fisherman he is not. I can still remember being stuck out in the middle of a lake in central Florida when I was about 9 during a torrential downpour. I swore off boats.  So much has changed since those days.  One other person besides my husband has had the patience to take me fishing. He said to be sure to wear sunglasses because I just might poke your eye out when casting and we were only fishing for bream! I have never been into sports due to the fact that I have NO coordination skills. I can fall standing still. I can’t swim in a straight line either, mainly because I don’t like putting my head underwater (I am working on that because it is hard to harvest scallops when you won’t dive.) My life changed when I found sobriety. I had to find something to do on the boat when drinking was no longer an option. That happened two and a half years ago, when I fell in love with fishing.

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Cold in the beginning of the day.

Warm at the end of the day!

Warm at the end of the day!

It was either love fishing or never truly understand my husband. I am grateful I chose the latter. It has bonded us in a way I could never imagined before.  It has also caused some new, interesting arguments, but I don’t mind those because they can all be worked out on the water. Recently, I caught a pretty decent redfish for light tackle in North Florida’s Gulf Coast flats. When I proudly posted the picture to social media, I instantly received many &likes.& There was also something odd about the comments I received. It seemed as though many people didn’t believe I had caught the fish or had done the work myself. I was irritated, but then realized, of course they didn’t. Why would they? There seem to be very few women in the sport of fishing, even in this modern age. Oh sure, there are tons of fishing models. Whatever that means. To me that means a desperate woman seeking attention in any way possible. I get it, sex sells. That is why there a girls on the cover of almost every fishing magazine out there. I don’t mind that, but I do mind when I scroll down my news feed, thinking I am only subscribed to fishing sights, to see a naked butt. WHOA! Not ok. I also want credit for the blood, sweat and tears I put into catching that redfish. Yes, all three. I pour over information trying to figure out how to catch that fish. Up here in North Florida, we are handed a redfish every cast like in some places, especially after the weather we have had. Also, I am an emotional female. I work hard and cast hard. When I get skunked I cry, sometimes. My husband hates it, I know. I am getting better! There is no crying in fishing, except when I am on your boat. When you put so much effort into the catch and get let down, tears come. As time passes, there are less tears. And yes, I have bleed by getting stuck by a lure. Yes, Little Miss Grace hurts herself often on the boat. Oh and bass thumb is a painfully good hurt!

The moon, which changes everything!

The moon, which changes everything!

Most people I read about, seem to have fished their whole lives. I know my cast must be laughable to most people. I remember my husband and I cheering when it actually landed more than 5 feet away from the boat. Last year, I learned to touch the fish. I can’t believe that I was scared, wait, no I can. That is part of the reason fishing is so much fun to me. The fish is so different from land animals. They are slimy and weird. They are mysterious. To catch fish, you have to think like fish. You have to think like what the fish eat. You almost get a glimpse into the world they live in.

Oyster bars, perfect for reds!

Oyster bars, perfect for reds!

We have had a particularly slow winter. That is something I think is much different about women, or maybe just me, than men, I tell more. I will tell you what body of water I fished on. To me, that doesn’t mean you are going to have the success I did. Although, I would love for you to have the success I did. I want people to know and love fishing. I am a sharer. Fishing always seemed like a secret club you couldn’t understand if you were on the outside. The truth, if I can do it, you can do it. Of course, I put a lot of time and effort into it. I feel that my husband and I make an awesome team now. I do not think you can walk into any sporting goods store, pick up a rod & reel and catch a fish. I do think, with the right lessons and tools, anyone can fish.

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I am still concerned about how I look in my pictures. Although, I have yet to think I look cute in any of them. My hubby says he knows a girl didn’t catch the fish if she looks too good in her photo. I believe that. My hair is a mess and no, I did not put on make-up. I suppose I could try more, but that is my point. People don’t take me seriously now and I look a hot mess! I would never hand my pole to my husband to reel in my fish! When we got on the water he said, &Your poles are in the back and the bait is in the cooler or the tackle box.& I went right to it. He later told me he was joking and was wondering when I was going to get onto him. (Our relationship is a friendship first.) When I hooked that big red by the oyster bar my heart started racing. We jumped into action. He worked the trolling motor while I reeled. Of course we didn’t have a net because we always seem to lose it! We chased the fish down! I was on edge and yelling at him to grab that fish! (We are not happy without line, a whole other story.) I let the fish tire himself out and reeled at just the right moment. I have learned how to do this over time and from experience. My husband has learned to back off and not tell me too much. I finally got him close enough to the boat for Travis to grab him and pull him in. I did the work. I only let Travis do, what I would’ve done for him. I pride myself on being a fishing partner now. I don’t want to be a burden, but an asset.

The sweet release.

The sweet release.

We are working on me backing the boat down and working the trolling motor. Those are two things that have more to do with my lack of hand eye coordination than anything. I love fishing and I love learning. I am a sponge soaking up knowledge. I can still enjoying just being on the water, but I am too far gone to not be bummed if I get shut out. I love seeing fellow fisherwomen out there who are known for their knowledge and perseverance, not just their looks. I believe we bring a whole new element to the sport that has lacked. We make it accessible to people who once thought it was only passed down from generation to generation. We are the future of sport fishing.

 

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