“Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, ‘I’m going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough. I am going to snow anyway.’ ” Maya Angelou
“Whoa that dude just caught a musky over there in the kayak!! …… wait…. I think that’s a chick…”
On of the best parts of being a female in this sport is seeing the looks on people’s faces when I take off my ball cap at the boat ramp after stepping out of my kayak from a long day on the water, or when I meet them on the ice at first light and they notice my long blonde braid peeking out from my face mask.
I’m sure many aren’t sure of what to think, and some are very vocal about it. I have had both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. I’ve been disrespected and I’ve been praised. I have had obstacles because I am a female, and I’ve had opportunities because I’m a female. Sadly, most people fail to take me seriously at first, and I believe it is not only due to traditions, but largely because of social media and how most women in the outdoors are portrayed. The barbie dolls dominate the internet while the practical outdoor women drown in the stereotypes.
I have fought for many years to prove that I am truly passionate about the sport. I have pushed myself well out of my comfort zone and faced adversity on many levels trying to tell the world I’m not just a blonde chick who likes to be outside. It is something I have grown accustomed to, and I wanted to share some insight and thoughts on being a female angler.
To my male counterparts who knowingly or unknowingly stereotype:
- I don’t blame you. Anytime I am introduced to a fellow lady angler, I catch myself doing the same thing. In a world where the scantily clad, “female anglers” are featured provocatively posing with sub par catches, how can anyone not doubt the legitimacy of the rest of the ladies claiming to be true outdoors enthusiasts? While we are entitled to our suspicions, please keep in mind that though our numbers may be few, there are women out there whose passion for the sport rivals and could possibly trump you own.
- I fished a 24 hour, run and gun style kayak tournament last spring against 39 other men, and in that time span, I fished 9 different bodies of water, including a giant reservoir in the middle of the night, I didn’t sleep, I caught 11 different species and came in second place… and I did it alone. I am usually the first one on the water, and the last one to leave, and the weather plays no role in my decision to fish.
- When you think about discriminating, remember, there are also men out there who can’t catch a bass in a 10 acre farm pond but collect pro staffs like Rosie O’donell collects pounds.
- I may speak for myself here, but I believe true women of this sport don’t necessarily want extra attention just because they are females. I remember fishing the Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork, Texas, and one of the directors asked if I’d talk to the camera because I was one of four women, I politely declined and said, “If I win this tournament, heck yeah, give me that spotlight. Until then, I’m just a regular angler.” When I go to an outdoors event or tournament, I’m not looking for compliments or true love, I’m here to share tips and stories with fellow anglers from all over the country who are cut from the same cloth, and I’m here to compete.
To the men and businesses who lift up and encourage the bikini babes:
- Basing a woman’s talent on of the size of her waist and bust typically is not the best method.
- I’ve had several companies contact me regarding a “pro staff” if I would pose for a calendar… ha. You can keep the free flat bill and decal. I’ll keep my integrity.
- Speaking of pro staffs, I met a highly decorated female athlete in Florida who is sponsored by a number of large companies. We talked fishing for a few minutes, and I learned that her knowledge of the sport was comparable to that of an infant child’s. Male or female, are these the types of people you want representing your brand?
- I have had several comments from several of you keyboard warriors regarding the lack of effort put into making myself look presentable on the water or in the field. I must be mistaken, I thought we were here for the sport. I hash tagged #diehardangler, not #dothesewadersmakemelookfat, but again I do appreciate all the time you spend in the dark on the computer letting the real, bold, outdoor women out there know what you think of their wardrobe selection, while they are outside relentlessly LIVING this life. You will have a much better chance at meeting a girl if you get off of the computer and out of your mothers basement.
To the Bikini Babes:
- I can’t write this without giving you some credit. I have no doubt that many of you saw this market as a giant opportunity to make money and gain a massive following. We’ve known ever since Pearl Tobacco Co feature a naked woman on their packaging in 1871 that sex sells, and it sells well.
- I also cannot write this without clarifying something. Wearing a bikini and fishing isn’t something I am condemning. I get it, its summer, its hot. You spent a lot of time on the treadmill, you’re proud of the way you look, and girl, you should be. You’re out fishing and happen to be wearing a bikini and hook into a decent fish. Absolutely, take that picture and share it. It’s when the focus of the picture shifts from the catch to the female anatomy is when eyebrows are raised, and many question your intentions.
- Explain something to me. What does straddling the side of the boat, staring off into the sunset in a thong bikini, with the caption “I just looooove fishing” do for your image? I can tell you what it doesn’t do, and thats earn the respect of serious and professional anglers in the community. Don’t you want to be taken seriously? Or is it just about the paycheck…
- Lastly, remember your audience. Though much of your following consists of middle aged, single men and pre pubescent teens, there are also young women who view your page. While I support encouraging women to be themselves and to be proud of how they look, I do not support the superficial, sell-your-soul message that some lady anglers portray by posting seductive images that highlight everything that the outdoors is not. What message do you want to send to them?
To the few and far between, the unabating lady angler:
- Let me tell you, my first time fishing tournaments I was a nervous wreck. I felt like I had something to prove because I knew I had eyes on me. If a guy zeros, no one notices, but I felt it I did, everyone would attribute it to my gender. I felt like I needed to do this thing on my own. I turned down fishing advice from others and I wouldn’t let anyone help me load my kayak on top of my vehicle. All of that was foolish. We are in this sport to teach and to learn. To listen and to be heard. When a guy offers help, don’t take offense to it. The majority of the guys in the sport are genuine and are proof that chivalry isn’t dead, and has a place in the outdoors.
- Though you probably share the same opinion when it comes to bikini anglers, I would encourage you not to tear them down. When it comes down to it, they are human beings and are also women in this sport, whether they choose to represent it as we would or not. There is a much more constructive way to get a message across than hateful comments. I have found that your voice is the loudest when you choose not to use it in a way that is degrading.
- We all strive to be taken seriously. It is easy to get offended when people doubt your abilities, but allow your actions to prove them wrong. It may take time to earn the respect of the majority, but isn’t that the fun part?
- I hate to break it to you, but the majority of the messages you will receive on social media won’t in fact be about inquiring information on the giant bass you just posted a picture of, but rather your marital status. Many guys who asks to go fishing with you probably don’t care to hear about your tricks on working a shaky head jig. Be selective and be careful. Don’t let the attention that comes along with being a rarity in this field get to your head or discourage you. Stay humble and grounded.
- Let’s face it. We DO get more attention on social media and outdoor companies because we are females. It’s the raw truth. Instead of using that as an ego booster, use it as a platform to let your voice be heard. It is an opportunity for us to not only get free product, but more importantly to let the world know that we are here, and our passion is real.
- Lastly, I want to thank you. Thank you for staying true to YOU. For taking the high road. For turning down easy money. For defying the odds, and overcoming adversity. For helping me grow the sport and pave the road from young women across the country. You all inspire me, and I pray I continue to lift you up.