On the hook with Lee Rose Koza

Learning to fish from my dad and brother made me a passionate female angler, overcoming stereotypes and achieving success in bass fishing.

Introduction to fishing

My first fishing memories unfolded in my front yard with my family of four. I distinctly remember my dad instructing my brother and me on how to cast and teaching us many other beginner tips and tricks to catch bass, catfish, and crappie. Both my dad and brother play an enormous role in shaping me into the avid female angler I am today. Growing up, I watched them compete before I ever had the thought of entering the sport of bass fishing myself.

Perceptions and attitudes

Traditionally, the fishing community is recognized as a male-dominated industry. It’s important to recognize that the fishing industry is diverse, full of all ages, male and female. Of course, there are stereotypes and challenges, but there is a huge growth of female participation bringing unique skills and knowledge to the table. Overall, I think the perception of women has changed for the best over the past few years.

Equality and inclusion efforts

As the sport of bass fishing has changed over time, so has female participation. I think a huge percentage of the growth over the years is because of the strong female leaders who paved the way for future lady anglers, such as Helen Sevier. She served Bassmaster for 31 years and contributed to many other outdoor organizations. Her deep devotion to the competition and B.A.S.S. is beyond inspiring. Personal friends of mine, such as Pam Martin Wells and Kristine Fischer, have also encouraged and influenced my career.

Personal achievements

An achievement I will always remember in my fishing career took place in Bainbridge, Georgia, on Lake Seminole. It was one of my last high school tournaments competing with my brother and my dad as our boat captain before pursuing college fishing. Every tournament was special with the two of them in the boat with me, but this one in particular was a tournament that will never be forgotten.

From blast-off to the last cast, we never cranked the big motor but only traveled up and down one specific steep bank. My brother and I were netting five-pounder after five-pounder with my dad cheering as excitedly as he could ever be. It was a moment I never wanted to end. After the best day of fishing we had ever had, it was time for weigh-in. I’ll never forget the feeling of butterflies while we carried our bag together to the scales. I am proud to say we won the tournament, weighing the best bag in our career, twenty-three pounds and thirty-two ounces.

Advice for aspiring female anglers

Do not give up just because you are one of the few women in the sport. As long as you remain determined and persevere through the hardships like any angler in the field, you will thrive and achieve your goals. Making the decision in my junior year of high school to pursue competitive bass fishing has led to numerous life-changing opportunities.

You can follow Lee Rose on Instagram: @leerosekoza