To all the fathers that have sent messages on social media encouraging my career for the sake of their daughters, I want you to know I have read each and every message and continue to read and re-read them when my chin starts to drop and my feet start to drag. Your messages and pleas are motivation to stop being self-centered and open my eyes to the bigger picture: The industry needs a woman to step-up. The little girls of the world, they need someone that can show them it’s cool to rip lips and be a fishergirl. You can love the color pink, dresses and diamonds, and still go out on the water makeup-less, drive a bass boat well, and get bass thumb.
There will be a lot of responsibility that will come to the first female Elite qualifier, whoever it may be. The wrong attitude and mentality could ruin it for other women coming up, and moreover, could hinder the industry. I have spent many nights thinking about these responsibilities, so I put pen to paper to talk about some of the areas that have really hit home for me.
As a female, you need to learn how to drive a boat. Not just putting a boat on the trailer, but know how to really drive a boat. There is a lot more than putting your foot to the pedal and turning a wheel. Learn your rig, how it takes corners, where it grips, where it lets loose and learn how to time and read waves. In tournaments, you will encounter a lot of different weather and boating conditions; you will have that male in your passenger seat sweating and wondering if you know what the heck you are doing. So know what you are doing. One of the proudest moments is when your co-angler slaps you on the back and says, “Honey, you can drive!!” I spent the last 12 months getting to know my Skeeter FX, and one thing I love to do is take someone for a ride who has never been in a Skeeter. You want to be able to let the boat shine.
Your fishing mechanics and knowledge level need to be great, not just good, but great. Can you work a frog? No, not can you buzz a ribbit frog, can you walk Ish’s Phat Frog and pause it and walk it some more? Two years ago my mechanics were not on par. My baits entered the water hard; there was no flip into a Dixie cup successfully every cast. Roll casting? Back then I did not roll cast. Now? My casting, flipping, skipping and in-between skills continue to advance. When someone hands me a rod & reel, I take pride. Guys will generally not be put on the spot, but the public is always itching to see if the girl knows how to flip accurately. So be prepared.
The woman who qualifies for the Elites needs to understand most techniques more than surface level. The last 6 months I took a technique I wanted nothing to do with (light-lining) and have immersed myself in learning the hows and whys… the size of hooks, the type of hooks, the why one is effective on certain sizes of line and not others, and how each affect the natural profile of the bait being thrown. Make it a priority to learn the ins-and-outs of knots, from the San Diego Jam to the Double Uni and all those in between. Yes, there are many more knots than the Palomar, and you should learn them. You cannot help but smile when you cinch down a knot and your co-angler asks what the heck you just tied. When there are 99 guys, not all of them have to understand every technique because the public will split questions between the different male anglers. There are plenty of men to fill interview spots, but there will only be one or two women. So if the public or media asks you about a certain technique or a piece of equipment or a rod action, you need to know the details.