On the hook with Haley Dawn

Discover how I turned my childhood passion for fishing into a journey of inspiring and empowering women in the fishing community.

Introduction to Fishing

I was introduced to fishing at a young age. I grew up running trot lines on Mark Twain Lake in Missouri with my dad and grandfather. We’d run and bait the lines just before dark and wake up early in the morning to check them. It was our responsibility to bring back as many catfish as we could to feed the whole campground. Later on, my grandpa showed me a few of his tricks on how to crappie fish, but once I got those bass bites on crappie jigs, I became curious about bass.

Growing up, I took advantage of having a pond in my front yard and taught myself how to bass fish. I’ve spent many years on the water, exploring different lakes, ponds, and species. Then, one day, my buddy reached out and told me I should check into promoting for some fishing companies on Instagram. I didn’t even realize this was a thing. So, I made an Instagram account just for fishing, reached out to a few companies, and within a few months, I had a couple of sponsors, and the rest is history.

I have now been a part of the fishing community for about 2 ½ years. I have met and connected with some great people and learned SO much from other avid fishermen.

Experiences and Challenges

I believe that putting myself out there as a woman in the fishing industry has really opened the eyes of other women and empowered them to do the same thing I am. I’ve had many women reach out just to tell me that I’ve inspired them to get outside and fish. I have had women reach out looking to get pointers on where to start whether it’s what kind of setup they should use, what lure is most versatile or what kind of kayak they should get. I’ve even had one gal traveled all the way from Canada to fish with me, and we are still in contact to this day. I love that I have this impact on people and enjoy sharing my tips and tricks to get them started on their own journey.

As for negative experiences, being stereotyped is one of them. Being a female who wears makeup and has long blonde hair, most people would like to put me in a category of being high maintenance or girly. To an extent, I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put my game face on and get my hands dirty.

Another negative experience that I’ve encountered recently is negative comments. I think anyone who puts them self out into the public eye will experience this at some point. For instance, MLF posted me on their page for jumping into my first tournament ever as a co-angler and placing 13th out of 170+ anglers and someone commented saying that MLF is trying to “show off” by posting my picture, but in reality they’re just trying to spread the word that women can hop in these tournaments and make money as co-anglers. One thing they are trying to do is get more co-anglers on board. The number of boaters is outweighing co-anglers, so if they promote co-anglers more, no matter what the placing is, they might get more people participating. In addition to negative comments, I have had people discounting my achievements because I fish in small ponds and lakes out of a kayak but you have to start somewhere and these just happen to be the most accessible places around my area. I believe some people might just be intimidated by women fishing and think that if we aren’t at a competitive level on a big bass boat in huge reservoirs, we aren’t relevant

Future Perspectives

I would love to see more women getting into the sport and pursuing fishing, whether it be recreational or professional. We won’t be able to normalize women in fishing unless we show the world that we can get the job done. I wish I could say women will take over, but for me, as a mother, it is hard to travel and put the time in to compete in tournaments.

The work-life balance will get tough, but if you can make it happen, all the power to you. We, as women, can really do anything we set our minds to, and I think we have the patience it takes to perfect the sport. So, if you are serious about pursuing the sport, I’d say take those chances. You might be able to make history.

Personal Achievements

One thing I can proudly say is that I have four sponsors who believe in me, and I am very thankful for them. Those companies have allowed me to get where I am and do what I love. I’ve also recently jumped into my first Major League Fishing tournament as a co-angler and placed 13th out of 170+ anglers.

I’m hoping this has given someone, somewhere, the confidence to take that chance and jump in their first tournament as a co-angler. I’ve fished many local tournaments with professional angler Casey Scanlon, but after fishing as a co-angler, I believe it’s a totally different game when it’s all on you to do the work. I can confidently say that I see myself jumping in more tournaments as a co-angler.

Advice for Aspiring Female Anglers

Put the time in on the water. Have patience. Follow professionals and influencers. Watch YouTube videos. Join local bass clubs and tournaments. Go to fishing shows. Visit your local Bass Pro and ask questions. Support others so that they will support you. But most importantly, pick up that rod and reel and hit up a local lake. You will soon start to learn the dynamics of bass fishing.

You can follow Haley on Instagram: @hdefarmpondjunkie

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