On the hook with Desirae Wykoff

Fishing has been a therapeutic escape amidst a chaotic life, transforming my passion into a shared journey of learning, competition, and advocacy for women in the sport.

Introduction to fishing

My parents enjoyed fishing when I was a kid. My mom especially loved to fish for catfish and swore by the old chicken liver in pantyhose. In my early adult years, I lived on the Arkansas River, and it was therapeutic to take the four-wheeler down to the river and cast around after a long day of work. That’s when I really began to love fishing. I had a full-time job and three small kids, and life was chaotic, but at the river, it was peaceful. 

Experiences and challenges

I own a marine sales and installation company called ReelTech Marine with my husband, and men often assume that I don’t know anything about fishing or boats. I help him run wire, mount transducers, mount fish finders, etc. It doesn’t offend me because, from their experience, they probably haven’t encountered many women who do. One time we were checking out a boat, and the salesman told me that the back deck is perfect for me to suntan on while my husband fishes. I politely informed him that I actually love to fish. 

Personal achievements

I was an avid bank fisher until I met my husband. Bank fishing and boat fishing are a bit different. I have learned so much from him teaching me about techniques, environmental elements, etc., which has significantly helped me enhance my fishing performance (and helped us win some tournament money). I got into fishing more tournaments last year, and I recently won big bass in a tournament on Eufaula Lake here in Oklahoma, where I landed a 5.34 lb. bass. 

I love bass fishing with a baitcaster, and throwing a jerk bait has been my favorite lately. I recently got a Lew’s Pro-Ti baitcaster, and I almost don’t want to pick up anything else because I love it so much. I also love a whopper plopper when the topwater bite is on. 

Representation and visibility

Female representation is getting better and better over time. I think most companies are realizing that there is an abundance of female anglers in our country, and it is in their best interest to start marketing to them as well. I think Lisa Talmadge is a great example of female leadership in the fishing industry. She is well respected and keeps B.A.S.S. tournaments running like a well-oiled machine. 

We are seeing more competitive female anglers. I’m noticing more and more female anglers on local tournament trails. I think this is giving women more exposure to the world of fishing and all the possibilities. Women are starting to prove that we are just as capable as men competing on the water, so it’s caused the industry to start making more room for women in the sport. Women are quickly earning the respect of the fishing industry.

Advice for aspiring female anglers

Don’t let anything about it intimidate you. Everyone, even the guys, started somewhere. They had to learn how to throw a baitcaster, they had to learn which baits were appropriate for certain times and conditions, they had to learn how to operate a boat and back a trailer. We all start somewhere. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone’s chapter 30. Fishing is constantly progressing, especially with the introduction of FFS; even the seasoned anglers are learning new things all the time.

You can follow Desirae on Instagram: @desi_wykoff