On the hook with Annabelle Williams

Annabelle's fishing journey, from family support to overcoming challenges and finding friends in the fishing community, with advice for aspiring female anglers to keep learning and embrace new experiences.

Introduction to Fishing

Both sides of my family have always used fishing as a shared hobby, so it seemed inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps. While this is a large factor in my fishing journey and ultimately created a large support system, my father takes the majority of the credit for my drive and admiration of competitive fishing.

He began taking me fishing ever since I could walk. He didn’t treat our trips as time for him to simply babysit me while he himself fished, but rather he ensured that I was engaging in the sport, and he allowed me to become more and more independent. One of my earliest memories of fishing is him checking me out of kindergarten to go fish Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.

He has always advocated for me in this sport. When I wanted to join a local bass club, he petitioned for them to create a younger age group as I was 8 at the time and too young to join. When I transitioned to high school fishing, there was no one to lead the team, so he stepped up to carry that weight.

I graduated undergraduate in 2022 and am currently in a masters program online so I am no longer in collegiate level fishing. I still do fish competitively but no longer through my college! While my whole family has their own influence on my start in fishing, I owe my drive for fishing and my constant desire to seek knowledge of this sport to my father!

Experiences and Challenges

The negative experiences I have faced have mainly been within high school. A common experience I encountered was the assumption that I am not credible enough to achieve the accolades that I have, and therefore, the only explanation is that my success must be attributed to someone else’s knowledge. This has come in the form of statements such as, “the only reason you did well is because your dad caught all of the fish”.

This eventually transformed in high school fishing to, “your partner catches all of the fish”, which continued when I made a transition to fish with a different partner. The idea that I was always fishing with consistently amazing fishermen who were solely responsible for our success was more comprehensible to them than the notion that I was capable of contributing to our achievement.

This may be the optimist in me, but I feel that the majority of my experiences within fishing were positive. While it was all such a great time, the most notable would be the opportunity to travel the nation and meet other people who enjoyed the same sport that we did. My college fishing partner (now my husband) and I placed 4th in a qualifying tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir, which gave us the opportunity to travel from our home of Lake Charles, Louisiana, to the Potomac River in Maryland.

This was by far our longest travel for a tournament, and it was such a culture shock. We met so many individuals from different states, and it was such a positive experience to see the different fishing styles and characters that participated in the sport we loved so much.

Support Systems

I am grateful to have found several supportive networks within the fishing community. Within high school fishing, there were a few of my teammates, including my fishing partners, that I genuinely felt were supportive and encouraging through the process.

It seemed to foster long-lasting friendships, beginning as support systems within the fishing community and growing into support systems throughout our lives, one of which was recently a groomsman in our wedding. This supportive relationship dynamic worked to foster further confidence for me. Fishing is such a mental sport, and when you’re coming face to face with assumptions that you are not capable of achievements, it can impact your perception of yourself.

Having individuals who genuinely believed I was capable in the fishing field worked to combat these automatic negative thoughts of myself and my capability, further contributing to my confidence.

Changes over time

I think the growing representation mentioned earlier is one of the biggest changes since I started. BassmastHER is such a great example of this. Respected professionals addressing the reality of females in the sport of fishing is also such an important role in the acceptance.

For example, Trait and Chris Zaldain’s podcast, the bilge episode that spoke with kayak tournament angler Kristine Fischer about her experiences being a woman on a fishing circuit provides such insight into the adversities that women may face in this sport.

Advice for Aspiring Female Anglers

I think it is so imperative to remember why you started fishing and use this as motivation to push yourself in this field. It is likely you’re going to experience some adversities. Find your support system and lean on them when in need.

And keep learning. Never think your knowledge of fishing is complete! I think that a mistake so many anglers make, male or female, is depending on their favorite technique too much. Continue putting yourself on lakes with conditions you aren’t familiar with, keep seeking knowledge on different techniques.

As soon as you become too comfortable, you’ll be on a fishery that you are not equipped for, where your primary skill or technique isn’t relevant.

You can follow Annabelle on Instagram: @annabelle.williams8